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Preferred Citation: Dodds, Eric R. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley: University of California 
Press, c!951, 1973 printing 1973. http://ark.cdlib.Org/ark:/13030/ft0x0n99vw/ 



The Greeks And 
The Irrational 

By E R DODDS 




The Greeks and the I rrational 

By E. R. Dodds 

UNIVERSITY OF CALI FORNIA PRESS 

Berkeley ■ Los Angeles ■ Oxford 

© 1962 The Regents of the University of California 



To GILBERT MURRAY 



Preferred Citation: Dodds, Eric R. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley: University of California 
Press, cl951, 1973 printing 1973. http://ark.cdlib.Org/ark:/13030/ft0x0n99vw/ 

To GILBERT MURRAY 



Preface 

THIS BOOK is based on a course of lectures which I had the honour of giving at Berkeley in the 
autumn of 1949. They are reproduced here substantially as they were composed, though in a form 
slightly fuller than that in which they were delivered. Their original audience included many 
anthropologists and other scholars who had no specialist knowledge of ancient Greece, and it is my 
hope that in their present shape they may interest a similar audience of readers. I have therefore 
translated virtually all Greek quotations occurring in the text, and have transliterated the more 
important of those Greek terms which have no true English equivalent. I have also abstained as far as 
possible from encumbering the text with controversial arguments on points of detail, which could 
mean little to readers unfamiliar with the views controverted, and from complicating my main theme 
by pursuing the numerous side-issues which tempt the professional scholar. A selection of such matter 
will be found in the notes, in which I have tried to indicate briefly, where possible by reference to 
ancient sources or modern discussions, and where necessary by argument, the grounds for the 
opinions advanced in the text. 

To the nonclassical reader I should like to offer a warning against treating the book as if it were a 
history of Greek religion, or even of Greek religious ideas or feelings. If he does, he will be gravely 
misled. It is a study of the successive interpretations which Greek minds placed on one particular type 
of human experience— a sort of experience in which nineteenth-century rationalism took little interest, 
but whose cultural significance is now widely recognised. The evidence which is here brought together 



— iv — 

illustrates an important, and relatively unfamiliar, aspect of the mental world of ancient Greece. But an 



aspect must not be mistaken for the whole. 

To my fellow-professionals I perhaps owe some defence of the use which I have made in several 
places of recent anthropological and psychological observations and theories. In a world of specialists, 
such borrowings from unfamiliar disciplines are, I know, generally received by the learned with 
apprehension and often with active distaste. I expect to be reminded, in the first place, that "the 
Greeks were not savages," and secondly, that in these relatively new studies the accepted truths of 
to-day are apt to become the discarded errors of to-morrow. Both statements are correct. But in reply 
to the first it is perhaps sufficient to quote the opinion of Ley-Bruhl, that "dans tout esprit humain, 
quel qu'en soit le developpe-ment intellectuel, subsiste un fond inderacinable de mentalite primitive"; 
or, if nonclassical anthropologists are suspect, the opinion of Nilsson, that "primitive mentality is a 
fairly good description of the mental behaviour of most people to-day except in their technical or 
consciously intellectual activities." Why should we attribute to the ancient Greeks an immunity from 
"primitive" modes of thought which we do not find in any society open to our direct observation? 

As to the second point, many of the theories to which I have referred are admittedly provisional 
and uncertain. But if we are trying to reach some understanding of Greek minds, and are not content 
with describing external behaviour or drawing up a list of recorded "beliefs," we must work by what 
light we can get, and an uncertain light is better than none. Tylor's animism, Mannhardt's 
vegetation-magic, Frazer's year-spirits, Codrington's mana, have all in their day helped to illuminate 
dark places in the ancient record. They have also encouraged many rash guesses. But time and the 
critics can be trusted 



— v — 

to deal with the guesses; the illumination remains. I see here good reason to be cautious in applying 
to the Greeks generalisations based on non-Greek evidence, but none for the withdrawal of Greek 
scholarship into a self-imposed isolation. Still less are classical scholars justified in continuing to 
operate— as many of them do— with obsolete anthropological concepts, ignoring the new directions 
which these studies have taken in the last thirty years, such as the promising recent alliance between 
social anthropology and social psychology. If the truth is beyond our grasp, the errors of to-morrow 
are still to be preferred to the errors of yesterday; for error in the sciences is only another name for 
the progressive approximation to truth. 

It remains to express my gratitude to those who have helped in the production of this book: in the 
first place to the University of California, for causing me to write it; then to Ludwig Edelstein, W. K. C. 
Guthrie, I. M. Linforth, and A. D. Nock, all of whom read the whole or a part in typescript and made 
valuable suggestions; and finally to Harold A. Small, W. H. Alexander, and others at the University of 
California Press, who took great and uncomplaining trouble in preparing the text for the printer. I must 
also thank Professor Nock and the Council of the Roman Society for permission to reprint as 
appendices two articles which appeared respectively in the Harvard Theological Review and the Journal 
of Roman Studies ; and the Council of the Hellenic Society for permission to reproduce some pages 
from an article published in the Journal of Hellenic Studies . 



E. R. D. 
OXFORD 
AUGUST 1950 



VII 



- 1 - 



I 

Agamemnon's Apology 



The recesses of feeling, the darker, blinder strata of character, are the only places in the world in which we catch real 
fact in the making. 

WILLIAM JAMES 




SOME YEARS ago I was in the British Museum looking at the Parthenon sculptures when a young man 
came up to me and said with a worried air, "I know it's an awful thing to confess, but this Greek stuff 
doesn't move me one bit." I said that was very interesting: could he define at all the reasons for his 
lack of response? He reflected for a minute or two. Then he said, "Well, it's all so terribly rational , if 
you know what I mean." I thought I did know. The young man was only saying what has been said 
more articulately by Roger Fry [I] and others. To a generation whose sensibilities have been trained on 
African and Aztec art, and on the work of such men as Modigliani and Henry Moore, the art of the 
Greeks, and Greek culture in general, is apt to appear lacking in the awareness of mystery and in the 
ability to penetrate to the deeper, less conscious levels of human experience. 

This fragment of conversation stuck in my head and set me thinking. Were the Greeks in fact quite 
so blind to the importance of nonrational factors in man's experience and behaviour as is commonly 
assumed both by their apologists and by their critics? That is the question out of which this book grew. 
To answer it completely would evidently involve a survey of the whole cultural achievement of ancient 
Greece. But what I propose attempting is something much more modest: I shall 



- 2 - 

merely try to throw some light on the problem by examining afresh certain relevant aspects of Greek 
religious experience. I hope that the result may have a certain interest not only for Greek scholars but 
for some anthropologists and social psychologists, indeed for anyone who is concerned to understand 
the springs of human behaviour. I shall therefore try as far as possible to present the evidence in 
terms intelligible to the non-specialist. 

I shall begin by considering a particular aspect of Homeric religion. To some classical scholars the 
Homeric poems will seem a bad place to look for any sort of religious experience. "The truth is," says 
Professor Mazon in a recent book, "that there was never a poem less religious than the Iliad. This 
may be thought a littlesweeping; but it reflects an opinion which seems to be widely accepted. 
Professor Murray thinks that the so-called Homeric religion "was not really religion at all"; for in his 
view "the real worship of Greece before the fourth century almost never attached itself to those 
luminous Olympian forms. " [3:| Similarly Dr. Bowra observes that "this complete anthropomorphic 
system has of course no relation to real religion or to morality. These gods are a delightful, gay 
invention of poets. " [4:i 

Of course— if the expression "real religion" means the kind of thing that enlightened Europeans or 
Americans of to-day recognise as being religion. But if we restrict the meaning of the word in this way, 
are we not in danger of undervaluing, or even of overlooking altogether, certain types of experience 
which we no longer interpret in a religious sense, but which may nevertheless in their time have been 
quite heavily charged with religious significance? My purpose in the present chapter is not to quarrel 
with the distinguished scholars I have quoted over their use of terms, but to call attention to one kind 
of experience in Homer which is prima facie religious and to examine its psychology. 

Let us start from that experience of divine temptation or infatuation (ate ) which led Agamemnon 
to compensate himself 



- 3 - 

for the loss of his own mistress by robbing Achilles of his. "Not I," he declared afterwards, "not I was 
the cause of this act, but Zeus and my portion and the Erinys who walks in darkness: they it was who 
in the assembly put wild ate in my understanding, on that day when I arbitrarily took Achilles' prize 
from him. So what could I do? Deity will always have its way." By impatient modern readers these 
words of Agamemnon's have sometimes been dismissed as a weak excuse or evasion of responsibility. 
But not, I think, by those who read carefully. An evasion of responsibility in the juridical sense the 
words certainly are not; for at the end of his speech Agamemnon offers compensation precisely on this 
ground— "But since I was blinded by ate and Zeus took away my understanding, I am willing to make 
my peace and give abundant compensation. " [6] Had he acted of his own volition, he could not so 
easily admit himself in the wrong; as it is, he will pay for his acts. Juridically, his position would be the 
same in either case; for early Greek justice cared nothing for intent— it was the act that mattered. Nor 
is he dishonestly inventing a moral alibi; for the victim of his action takes the same view of it as he 
does. "Father Zeus, great indeed are the atai thou givest to men. Else the son of Atreus would never 
have persisted in rousing the thumos in my chest, nor obstinately taken the girl against my will." 17 - 1 
You may think that Achilles is here politely accepting a fiction, in order to save the High King's face? 
But no: for already in Book 1, when Achilles is explaining the situation to Thetis, he speaks of 




Agamemnon's behaviour as his ate ; 181 and in Book 9 he exclaims, "Let the son of Atreus go to his 
doom and not disturb me, for Zeus the counsellor took away his understanding." 19 - 1 It is Achilles' view 
of the matter as much as Agamemnon's' and in the famous words which introduce the story of the 
Wrath— "The plan of Zeus was fulfilled" 110 - 1 —we have a strong hint that it is also the poet's view. 

If this were the only incident which Homer's characters interpreted in this peculiar way, we might 
hesitate as to the poet's motive: we might guess, for example, that he wished 



- 4 - 

to avoid alienating the hearers' sympathy too completely from Agamemnon, or again that he was 
trying to impart a deeper significance to the rather undignified quarrel of the two chiefs by 
representing it as a step in the fulfilment of a divine plan. But these explanations do not apply to other 
passages where "the gods" or "some god" or Zeus are said to have momentarily "taken away" or 
"destroyed" or "ensorcelled" a human being's understanding. Either of them might indeed be applied 
to the case of Helen, who ends a deeply moving and evidently sincere speech by saying that Zeus has 
laid on her and Alexandras an evil doom, "that we may be hereafter a theme of song for men to 
come." [nI But when we are simply told that Zeus "ensorcelled the mind of the Achaeans," so that 
they fought badly, no consideration of persons comes into play; still less in the general statement that 
"the gods can make the most sensible man senseless and bring the feeble-minded to good sense." 112 - 1 
And what, for example, of Glaucus, whose understanding Zeus took away, so that he did what Greeks 
almost never do— accepted a bad bargain, by swopping gold armour for bronze? 113 - 1 Or what of 
Automedon, whose folly in attempting to double the parts of charioteer and spearman led a friend to 
ask him "which of the gods had put an unprofitable plan in his breast and taken away his excellent 
understanding?" 114 - 1 These two cases clearly have no connection with any deeper divine purpose; nor 
can there be any question of retaining the hearers' sympathy, since no moral slur is involved. 

At this point, however, the reader may naturally ask whether we are dealing with anything more 
than a fagon de parler . Does the poet mean anything more than that Glaucus was a fool to make the 
bargain he did? Did Automedon's friend mean anything more than "What the dickens prompted you to 
behave like that?" Perhaps not. The hexameter formulae which were the stock-in-trade of the old 
poets lent themselves easily to the sort of semasiological degeneration which ends by creating a fagon 
de parler . And we may note that neither the Glaucus episode nor the futile aristeia of Automedon is 
integral 



- 5 - 

to the plot even of an "expanded" I Had: they may well be additions by a later hand. 115:1 Our aim, 
however, is to understand the original experience which lies at the root of such stereo-typed 
formulae— for even a fgon de parler must have an origin. It may help us to do so if we look a little 
more closely at the nature of ate and of the agencies to which Agamemnon ascribes it, and then 
glance at some other sorts of statement which the epic poets make about the sources of human 
behaviour. 

There are a number of passages in Homer in which unwise and unaccountable conduct is 
attributed to ate , or described by the cognate verb aasasthai , without explicit reference to divine 
intervention. But ate in Homer 1 - 16 - 1 is not itself a personal agent: the two passages which speak of ate 
in personal terms, II . 9.505 ff. and 19.91 ff., are transparent pieces of allegory. Nor does the word 
ever, at any rate in the Iliad , mean objective disaster, 117 - 1 as it so commonly does in tragedy. Always, 
or practically always, 113:i ate is a state of mind— a temporary clouding or bewildering of the normal 
consciousness. It is, in fact, a partial and temporary insanity; and, like all insanity, it is ascribed, not 
to physiological or psychological causes, but to an external "daemonic" agency. In the Odyssey , 119:1 it 
is true, excessive consumption of wine is said to cause ate ; the implication, however, is probably not 
that ate can be produced "naturally," but rather that wine-has something supernatural or daemonic 
about it. Apart from this special case, the agents productive of ate , where they are specified, seem 
always to be supernatural beings; 120 - 1 so we may class all instances of non alcoholic ate in Homer 
under the head of what I propose to call "psychic intervention." 

If we review them, we shall observe that ate is by no means necessarily either a synonym for, or a 
result of, wickedness. The assertion of Liddell and Scott that ate is "mostly sent as the punishment of 
guilty rashness" is quite untrue of Homer. The ate (here a sort of stunned bewilderment) which 
overtook Patroclus after Apollo had struck him 1211 might possibly be claimed as an instance, since 
Patroclus had rashly routed the 




- 6 - 

Trojans trip aluo.v^ 22 ^ but earlier in the scene this rashness is itself ascribed to the will of Zeus and 
characterised by the verb aa<r0>?. [231 Again, the ate of one Agastrophus [241 in straying too far from his 
chariot, and so getting himself killed, is not a "punishment" for rashness; the rashness is itself the ate 
, or a result of the ate , and it involves no discernible moral guilt— it is just an unaccountable error, like 
the bad bargain which Glaucus made. Again, Odysseus was neither guilty nor rash when he took a nap 
at an unfortunate moment, thus giving his companions a chance to slaughter the tabooed oxen. It was 
what we should call an accident; but for Homer, as for early thought in general, [25] there is no such 
thing as accident— Odysseus knows that his nap was sent by the gods ffe arrjy, "to fool him." [26] Such 
passages suggest that ate had originally no connection with guilt. The notion of ate as a punishment 
seems to be either a late development in Ionia or a late importation from outside: the only place in 
Homer where it is explicitly asserted is the unique Airai passage in Iliad 9, [27] which suggests that it 
may possibly be a Mainland idea, taken over along with the Meleager story from an epic composed in 
the mother country. 

A word next about the agencies to which ate is ascribed. Agamemnon cites, not one such agency, 
but three: Zeus and moira and the Erinys who walks in darkness (or, according to another and 
perhaps older reading, the Erinys who sucks blood). Of these, Zeus is the mythological agent whom 
the poet conceives as the prime mover in the affair: "the plan of Zeus was fulfilled." It is perhaps 
significant that (unless we make Apollo responsible for the ate of Patroclus) Zeus is the only individual 
Olympian who is credited with causing ate in the Iliad (hence ate is allegorically described as his eldest 
daughter). [281 Moira , I think, is brought in because people spoke of any unaccountable personal 
disaster as part of their "portion" or "lot," meaning simply that they cannot understand why it 
happened, but since it has happened, evidently "it had to be." People still speak in that way, more 
especially of death, for which plpa has in fact become a synonym in modern Greek, like pipos in 
classical Greek. 



- 7 - 

I am sure it is quite wrong to write Moira with a capital "M" here, as if it signified either a personal 
goddess who dictates to Zeus or a Cosmic Destiny like the Hellenistic Heimarmene . As goddesses, 
Moirai are always plural, both in cult and in early literature, and with one doubtful exception 1291 they 
do not figure at all in the Iliad . The most we can say is that by treating his "portion" as an agent— by 
making it do something— Agamemnon is taking a first step towards personification. [301 Again, by 
blaming his moira Agamemnon no more declares himself a systematic determinist than does the 
modern Greek peasant when he uses similar language. To ask whether Homer's people are 
determinists or libertarians is a fantastic anachronism: the question has never occurred to them, and if 
it were put to them it would be very difficult to make them understand what it meant. [311 What they 
do recognize is the distinction between normal actions and actions performed in a state of ate . Actions 
of the latter sort they can trace indifferently either to their moira or to the will of a god, according as 
they look at the matter from a subjective or an objective point of view. In the same way Patroclus 
attributes his death directly to the immediate agent, the man Euphorbus, and indirectly to the 
mythological agent, Apollo, but from a subjective standpoint to his bad moira . It is, as the 
psychologists say, "overdetermined. " [321 

On this analogy, the Erinys should be the immediate agent in Agamemnon's case. That she should 
figure at all in this context may well surprise those who think of an Erinys as essentially a spirit of 
vengeance, still more those who believe, with Rohde, [331 that the Erinyes were originally the vengeful 
dead. But the passage does not stand alone. We read also in the Odyssey [341 of "the heavy ate which 
the hard-hitting goddess Erinys laid on the understanding of Melampus." In neither place is there any 
question of revenge or punishment. The explanation is perhaps that the Erinys is the personal agent 
who ensures the fulfilment of a moira . That is why the Erinyes cut short the speech of Achilles' 
horses: it is not "according to moira " for horses to talk. [35] That is why they would punish the 



- 8 - 

sun, according to Heraclitus, [36] if the sun should "transgress his measures" by exceeding the task 
assigned to him. Most probably, I think, the moral function of the Erinyes as ministers of vengeance 
derives from this primitive task of enforcing a moira which was at first morally neutral, or rather, 
contained by implication both an "ought" and a "must" which early thought did not clearly distinguish. 
So in Homer we find them enforcing the claims to status which arise from family or social relationship 
and are felt to be part of a person's moira: [37] a parent, [3fc - an elder brother, [391 even a beggar, [40] 
has something due to him as such, and can invoke "his" Erinyes to protect it. So too they are called 




upon to witness oaths; for the oath creates an assignment, a moira . The connection of Erinys with 
moira is still attested by Aeschylus, [411 though the moirai have now become quasi-personal; and the 
Erinyes are still for Aeschylus dispensers of ate , [421 although both they and it have been moralised. It 
rather looks as if the complex moira -Erinys-ate had deep roots, and might well be older than the 
ascription of ate to the agency of Zeus. [431 In that connection it is worth recalling that Erinys and aisa 
(which is synonymous with moira ) go back to what is perhaps the oldest known form of Hellenic 
speech, the Arcado-Cypriot dialect. [441 

Here, for the present, let us leave ate and its associates, and consider briefly another kind of 
"psychic intervention" which is no less frequent in Homer, namely, the communication of power from 
god to man. In the Iliad , the typical case is the communication of menos [451 during a battle, as when 
Athena puts a triple portion of menos into the chest of her protege Diomede, or Apollo puts menos into 
the thumos of the wounded Glaucus. [46i This menos is not primarily physical strength; nor is it a 
permanent organ of mental life 147 - 1 like thumos or noos . Rather it is, like ate , a state of mind. When 
a man feels menos in his chest, or "thrusting up pungently into his nostrils, " [48] he is conscious of a 
mysterious access of energy; the life in him is strong, and he is filled with a new confidence and 
eagerness. The connection of menos with the sphere of volition comes out clearly in the re- 



- 9 - 

lated words ntvoivav, "to be eager," and Swr/Mi'fo, "wishing ill." It is significant that often, though not 
always, a communication of menos comes as a response to prayer. But it is something much more 
spontaneous and instinctive than what we call "resolution"; animals can have it, [491 and it is used by 
analogy to describe the devouring energy of fire. *■ 50 -* In man it is the vital energy, the "spunk," which 
is not always there at call, but comes and goes mysteriously and (as we should say) capriciously. But 
to Homer it is not caprice: it is the act of a god, who "increases or diminishes at will a man's arete 
(that is to say, his potency as a fighter). " I511 Sometimes, indeed, the menos can be roused by verbal 
exhortation; at other times its onset can only be explained by saying that a god has "breathed it into" 
the hero, or "put it in his chest," or, as we read in one place, transmitted it by contact, through a 
staff. 1521 

I think we should not dismiss these statements as "poetic invention" or "divine machinery." No 
doubt the particular instances are often invented by the poet for the convenience of his plot; and 
certainly the psychic intervention is sometimes linked with a physical one, or with a scene on Olympus. 
But we. can be pretty sure that the underlying idea was not invented by any poet, and that it is older 
than the conception of anthropomorphic gods physically and visibly taking part in a battle. The 
temporary possession of a heightened menos is, like ate , an abnormal state which demands a 
supernormal explanation. Homer's men can recognise its onset, which is marked by a peculiar 
sensation in the limbs. "My feet beneath and hands above feel eager (naijulw<ri) » S ays one recipient of 
the power: that is because, as the poet tells us, the god has made them nimble (&a$pa). [531 This 
sensation, which is here shared by a second recipient, confirms for them the divine origin of the menos 
, [541 It is an abnormal experience. And men in a condition of divinely heightened menos behave to 
some extent abnormally. They can perform the most difficult feats with ease (p^a): [55] that is a 
traditional mark of divine power. [561 They can even, like Diomede, fight with impunity against 
gods [571 —an action which 



- 10 - 

to men in their normal state is excessively dangerous. [5S1 They are in fact for the time being rather 
more, or perhaps rather less, than human. Men who have received a communication of menos are 
several times compared to ravening lions; 159 - 1 but the most striking description of the state is in Book 
15, where Hector goes berserk (poij'trai) j he foams at the mouth, and his eyes glow. 1 - 601 From such 
cases it is only a step to the idea of actual possession (Sainovav ) ; but it is a step which Homer does not 
take. He does say of Hector that after he had put on Achilles' armour "Ares entered into him and his 
limbs were filled with courage and strength"; 1611 but Ares here is hardly more than a synonym for the 
martial spirit, and the communication of power is produced by the will of Zeus, assisted perhaps by the 
divine armour. Gods do of course for purposes of disguise assume the shape and appearance of 
individual human beings; but that is a different belief. Gods may appear at times in human form, men 
may share at times in the divine attribute of power, but in Homer there is nevertheless no real blurring 
of the sharp line which separates humanity from deity. 

In the Odyssey , which is less exclusively concerned with fighting, the communication of power 
takes other forms. The poet of the "Telemachy" imitates the I liad by making Athena put menos into 
Telemachus; [621 but here the menos is the moral courage which will enable the boy to face the 




overbearing suitors. That is literary adaptation. Older and more authentic is the repeated claim that 
minstrels derive their creative power from God. "I am self-taught," says Phemius; "it was a god who 
implanted all sorts of lays in my mind." 163 - 1 The two parts of his statement are not felt as 
contradictory: he means, I think, that he has not memorised the lays of other minstrels, but is a 
creative poet who relies on the hexameter phrases welling up spontaneously as he needs them out of 
some unknown and uncontrollable depth; he sings "out of the gods," as the best minstrels always 
do. i o4] I shall come back to that in the latter part of chapter iii, "The Blessings of Madness." 

But the most characteristic feature of the Odyssey is the way 



- 11 - 

in which its personages ascribe all sorts of mental (as well as physical) events to the intervention of a 
nameless and indeterminate daemon [65] or "god" or "gods." [66] These vaguely conceived beings can 
inspire courage at a crisis 16 ' ] or take away a man’s understanding, [68 ~ just as gods do in the I liad . 
But they are also credited with a wide range of what may be called loosely "monitions." Whenever 
someone has a particularly brilliant [69] or a particularly foolish [70] idea; when he suddenly recognises 
another person's identity 171 - 1 or sees in a flash the meaning of an omen; [72] when he remembers 
what he might well have forgotten 173 - 1 or forgets what he should have remembered, [74] he or 
someone else will see in it, if we are to take the words literally, a psychic intervention by one of these 
anonymous supernatural beings. [75:| Doubtless they do not always expect to be taken literally: 
Odysseus, for example, is hardly serious in ascribing to the machinations of a daemon the fact that he 
went out without his cloak on a cold night. But we are not dealing simply with an "epic convention." 
For it is the poet's characters who talk like this, and not the poet: [763 his own convention is quite 
other— he operates, like the author of the Iliad , with clear-cut anthropomorphic gods such as Athena 
and Poseidon, not with anonymous daemons. If he has made his characters employ a different 
convention, he has presumably done so because that is how people did in fact talk: he is being 
"realistic." 

And indeed that is how we should expect people to talk who believed (or whose ancestors had 
believed) in daily and hourly monitions. The recognition, the insight, the memory, the brilliant or 
perverse idea, have this in common, that they come suddenly, as we say, "into a man's head." Often 
he is conscious of no observation or reasoning which has led up to them. But in that case, how can he 
call them "his"? A moment ago they were not in his mind; now they are there. Something has put 
them there, and that something is other than himself. More than this he does not know. So he speaks 
of it noncommittally as "the gods" or "some god," or more often (especially when 



- 12 - 

its prompting has turned out to be bad) as a daemon. [77] And by analogy he applies the same 
explanation to the ideas and actions of other people when he finds them difficult to understand or out 
of character. A good example is Antinous' speech in Odyssey 2, where, after praising Penelope's 
exceptional intelligence and propriety, he goes on to say that her idea of refusing to remarry is not at 
all proper, and concludes that "the gods are putting it into her chest. " [7?3] Similarly, when Telemachus 
for the first time speaks out boldly against the suitors, Antinous infers, not without irony, that "the 
gods are teaching him to talk big." [79] His teacher is in fact Athena, as the poet and the reader 
know; 180 - 1 but Antinous is not to know that, so he says "the gods." 

A similar distinction between what the speaker knows and what the poet knows may be observed 
in some places in the I liad . When Teucer's bowstring breaks, he cries out with a shudder of fear that a 
daemon is thwarting him; but it was in fact Zeus who broke it, as the poet has just told us. [81] It has 
been suggested that in such passages the poet's point of view is the older: that he still makes use of 
the "Mycenaean" divine machinery, while his characters ignore it and use vaguer language like the 
poet's Ionian contemporaries, who (it is asserted) were losing their faith in the old anthropomorphic 
gods. 132 - 1 In my view, as we shall see in a moment, this is almost an exact reversal of the real 
relationship. And it is anyhow clear that Teucer's vagueness has nothing to do with scepticism: it is the 
simple result of ignorance. By using the word daemon he "expresses the fact that a higher power has 
made something happen, " [b3 - 1 and this fact is all he knows. As Ehnmark has pointed out/ 84 ^ similar 
vague language in reference to the supernatural was commonly used by Greeks at all periods, not out 
of scepticism, but simply because they could not identify the particular god concerned. It is also 
commonly used by primitive peoples, whether for the same reason or because they lack the idea of 
personal gods/ 85 ^ That its use by the Greeks is very old is shown by the high antiquity of the 
adjective daemonios . That 




- 13 - 

word must originally have meant "acting at the monition of a daemon"; but already in the Iliad its 
primitive sense has so far faded that Zeus can apply it to Hera. l fe6] A verbal coinage so defaced has 
clearly been in circulation for a long time. 

We have now surveyed, in such a cursory manner as time permits, the commonest types of 
psychic intervention in Homer. We may sum up the result by saying that all departures from normal 
human behaviour whose causes are not immediately perceived, 7 -* whether by the subjects’ own 
consciousness or by the observation of others, are ascribed to a supernatural agency, just as is any 
departure from the normal behaviour of the weather or the normal behaviour of a bowstring. This 
finding will not surprise the nonclassical anthropologist: he will at once produce copious parallels from 
Borneo or Central Africa. But it is surely odd to find this belief, this sense of constant daily dependence 
on the supernatural, firmly embedded in poems supposedly so "irreligious" as the Iliad and the 
Odyssey . And we may also ask ourselves why a people so civilised, clear-headed, and rational as the 
Ionians did not eliminate from their national epics these links with Borneo and the primitive past, just 
as they eliminated fear of the dead, fear of pollution, and other primitive terrors which must originally 
have played a part in the saga. I doubt if the early literature of any other European people— even my 
own superstitious countrymen, the Irish— postulates supernatural interference in human behaviour 
with such frequency or over so wide a field.* 883 

Nilsson is, I think, the first scholar who has seriously tried to find an explanation of all this in 
terms of psychology. In a paper published in 1924, * 89 -* which has now become classical, he contended 
that Homeric heroes are peculiarly subject to rapid and violent changes of mood: they suffer, he says, 
from mental instability (psychische Labi litat ). And he goes on to point out that even to-day a person 
of this temperament is apt, when his mood changes, to look back with horror on what he has just 
done, and exclaim, "I didn't really mean to do that!"— from which it is a short step to saying, "It wasn't 
really I who did 



- 14 - 

it." "His own behaviour," says Nilsson, "has become alien to him. He cannot understand it. It is for him 
no part of his Ego." This is a perfectly true observation, and its relevance to some of the phenomena 
we have been considering cannot, I think, be doubted. Nilsson is also, I believe, right in holding that 
experiences of this sort played a part— along with other elements, such as the Minoan tradition of 
protecting goddesses— in building up that machinery of physical intervention to which Homer resorts 
so constantly and, to our thinking, often so superfluously. We find it superfluous because the divine 
machinery seems to us in many cases to do no more than duplicate a natural psychological 
causation. * 90 -* But ought we not perhaps to say rather that the divine machinery "duplicates" a psychic 
intervention— that is, presents it in a concrete pictorial form? This was not superfluous; for only in this 
way could it be made vivid to the imagination of the hearers. The Homeric poets were without the 
refinements of language which would have been needed to "put across" adequately a purely 
psychological miracle. What more natural than that they should first supplement, and later replace, an 
old unexciting threadbare formula like IpfiaKt Oupu by making the god appear as a physical 
presence and exhort his favourite with the spoken word?* 91 -* How much more vivid than a mere 
inward monition is the famous scene in Iliad 1 where Athena plucks Achilles by the hair and warns him 
not to strike Agamemnon! But she is visible to Achilles alone: "none of the others saw her."* 92 -* That is 
a plain hint that she is the projection, the pictorial expression, of an inward monition 193 - 1 —a monition 
which Achilles might have described by such a vague phrase as ivirvtwxt . And I suggest 

that in general the inward monition, or the sudden unaccountable feeling of power, or the sudden 
unaccountable loss of judgement, is the germ out of which the divine machinery developed. 

One result of transposing the event from the interior to the external world is that the vagueness is 
eliminated: the indeterminate daemon has to be made concrete as some particular 



- 15 - 

personal god. In I liad 1 he becomes Athena, the goddess of good counsel. But that was a matter for 
the poet's choice. And through a multitude of such choices the poets must gradually have built up the 
personalities of their gods, "distinguishing," as Herodotus says,* 94 -* "their offices and skills and fixing 
their physical appearance." The poets did not, of course, invent the gods (nor does Herodotus say so): 
Athena, for example, had been, as we now have reason to believe, a Minoan house-goddess. But the 
poets bestowed upon them personality— and thereby, as Nilsson says, made it impossible for Greece to 
lapse into the magical type of religion which prevailed among her Oriental neighbours. 




Some, however, may be disposed to challenge the assertion on which, for Nilsson, all this 
construction rests. Are Homer's people exceptionally unstable, as compared with the characters in 
other early epics? The evidence adduced by Nilsson is rather slight. They come to blows on small 
provocation; but so do Norse and Irish heroes. Hector on one occasion goes berserk; but Norse heroes 
do so much oftener. Homeric men weep in a more uninhibited manner than Swedes or Englishmen; 
but so do all the Mediterranean peoples to this day. We may grant that Agamemnon and Achilles are 
passionate, excitable men (the story requires that they should be). But are not Odysseus and Ajax in 
their several ways proverbial types of steady endurance, as is Penelope of female constancy? Yet these 
stable characters are not more exempt than others from psychic intervention. I should hesitate on the 
whole to press this point of Nilsson's, and should prefer instead to connect Homeric man's belief in 
psychic intervention with two other peculiarities which do unquestionably belong to the culture 
described by Homer. 

The first is a negative peculiarity: Homeric man has no unified concept of what we call "soul" or 
"personality" (a fact to whose implications Bruno Snell 1 - 951 has lately called particular attention). It is 
well known that Homer appears to credit man with a psyche only after death, or when he is in 



- 16 - 



the act of fainting or dying or is threatened with death: the only recorded function of the psyche in 
relation to the living man is to leave him. Nor has Homer any other word for the living personality. The 
thumos may once have been a primitive "breath-soul" or "life-soul"; but in Homer it is neither the soul 
nor (as in Plato) a "part of the soul." It may be defined, roughly and generally, as the organ of feeling. 
But it enjoys an independence which the word "organ" does not suggest to us, influenced as we are by 
the later concepts of "organism" and "organic unity." A man's thumos tells him that he must now eat 
or drink or slay an enemy, it advises him on his course of action, it puts words into his mouth: 

Bvfibs ivuytt, he says, or kA*t(u Si pt dvpin. He can converse with it, or with his "heart" or his "belly," 
almost as man to man. Sometimes he scolds these detached entities (xpaSlr/v fy'uraiet pMy); [96] usually 
he takes their advice, but he may also reject it and act, as Zeus does on one occasion, "without the 
consent of his thumos ." [971 in the latter case, we should say, like Plato, that the man was 
xptiTTuv iavrov ' he had controlled himself . But for Homeric man the thumos tends not to be felt as part 
of the self: it commonly appears as an independent inner voice. A man may even hear two such 
voices, as when Odysseus "plans in his thumos " to kill the Cyclops forthwith, but a second voice ( 
irtpos Ovpfa) restrains him. [9S] This habit of (as we should say) "objectifying emotional drives," treating 
them as not-self, must have opened the door wide to the religious idea of psychic intervention, which 
is often said to operate, not directly on the man himself, but on his thumos 199 - 1 or on its physical seat, 
his chest or midriff. 11001 We see the connection very clearly in Diomede's remark that Achilles will 
fight "when the thumos in his chest tells him to and a god rouses him" [101] (overdetermination again). 



A second peculiarity, which seems to be closely related to the first, must have worked in the same 
direction. This is the habit of explaining character or behaviour in terms of knowledge. [1021 The most 
familiar instance is the very wide use of the verb oI5a, "I know," with a neuter plural object to express 



- 17 - 

not only the possession of technical skill {plbtv voX^ta tpy a and the like) but also what we should call 
moral character or personal feelings: Achilles "knows wild things, like a lion," Polyphemus "knows 
lawless things," Nestor and Agamemnon "know friendly things to each other. " [1031 This is not merely a 
Homeric "idiom": a similar transposition of feeling into intellectual terms is implied when we are told 
that Achilles has "a merciless understanding (rfor)," or that the Trojans "remembered flight and forgot 
resistance. 1041 This intellectualist approach to the explanation of behaviour set a lasting stamp on 
the Greek mind: the so-called Socratic paradoxes, that "virtue is knowledge," and that "no one does 
wrong on purpose," were no novelties, but an explicit generalised formulation of what had long been 
an ingrained habit of thought. [1051 Such a habit of thought must have encouraged the belief in psychic 
intervention. If character is knowledge, what is not knowledge is not part of the character, but comes 
to a man from outside. When he acts in a manner contrary to the system of conscious dispositions 
which he is said to "know," his action is not properly his own, but has been dictated to him. In other 
words, unsystematised, nonrational impulses, and the acts resulting from them, tend to be excluded 
from the self and ascribed to an alien origin. 

Evidently this is especially likely to happen when the acts in question are such as to cause acute 
shame to their author. We know how in our own society unbearable feelings of guilt are got rid of by 
"projecting" them in phantasy on to someone else. And we may guess that the notion of ate served a 
similar purpose for Homeric man by enabling him in all good faith to project on to an external power 




his unbearable feelings of shame. I say "shame" and not "guilt," for certain American anthropologists 
have lately taught us to distinguish "shame-cultures" from "guilt-cultures ," [1061 and the society 
described by Homer clearly falls into the former class. Homeric man's highest good is not the 
enjoyment of a quiet conscience, but the enjoyment of time , public esteem: "Why should I fight," 
asks Achilles, "if 



- 18 - 

the good fighter receives no more than the bad ?" 11071 And the strongest moral force which 
Homeric man knows is not the fear of god, [loa! but respect for public opinion, aidos:aIWoMotTp<ia?, says 
Hector at the crisis of his fate, and goes with open eyes to his death . [1091 The situation to which the 
notion of ate is a response arose not merely from the impulsiveness of Homeric man, but from the 
tension between individual impulse and the pressure of social conformity characteristic of a 
shame-culture . [1101 In such a society, anything which exposes a man to the contempt or ridicule of 
his fellows, which causes him to "lose face," is felt as unbearable . [1111 That perhaps explains how not 
only cases of moral failure, like Agamemnon's loss of self-control, but such things as the bad bargain 
of Glaucus, or Automedon's disregard of proper tactics, came to be "projected" on to a divine agency. 
On the other hand, it was the gradually growing sense of guilt, characteristic of a later age, which 
transformed ate into a punishment, the Erinyes into ministers of vengeance, and Zeus into an 
embodiment of cosmic justice. With that development I shall deal in my next chapter. 

What I have thus far tried to do is to show, by examining one particular type of religious 
experience, that behind the term "Homeric religion" there lies something more than an artificial 
machinery of serio-comic gods and goddesses, and that we shall do it less than justice if we dismiss it 
as an agreeable interlude of lighthearted buffoonery between the presumed profundities of an Aegean 
Earth-religion about which we know little, and those of an "early Orphic movement" about which we 
know even less. 



- 28 - 



II 

From Shame-Culture to Guilt-Culture 

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 

HEBREWS 10:31 



IN MY first chapter I discussed Homer's interpretation of the irrational elements in human behaviour as 
"psychic intervention"— an interference with human life by nonhuman agencies which put something 
into a man and thereby influence his thought and conduct. In this one I shall deal with some of the 
new forms which these Homeric ideas assumed in the course of the Archaic Age. But if what I have to 
say is to be intelligible to the nonspecialist, I must first attempt to make plain, at least in rough 
outline, certain of the general differences which separate the religious attitude of the Archaic Age from 
that presupposed in Homer. At the end of my first chapter I used the expressions "shame-culture" and 
"guilt-culture" as descriptive labels for the two attitudes in question. I am aware that these terms are 
not self-explanatory, that they are probably new to most classical scholars, and that they lend 
themselves easily to misconception. What I intend by them will, I hope, emerge as we proceed. But I 
should like to make two things clear at once. First, I use them only as descriptions, without assuming 
any particular theory of cultural change. And secondly, I recognise that the distinction is only relative, 
since in fact many modes of behaviour characteristic of shame-cultures persisted throughout the 
archaic and classical periods. There is a transition, but it is gradual and incomplete. 



- 29 - 

When we turn from Homer to the fragmentary literature of the Archaic Age, and to those writers of the 
Classical Age who still preserve the archaic outlook 111 —as do Pindar and Sophocles, and to a great 
extent Herodotus— one of the first things that strikes us is the deepened awareness of human 
insecurity and human helplessness (Ajunyovia ), 121 which has its religious correlate in the feeling of 




divine hostility— not in the sense that Deity is thought of as evil, but in the sense that an 
overmastering Power and Wisdom forever holds Man down, keeps him from rising above his station. It 
is the feeling which Herodotus expresses by saying that Deity is always <$Aov( pbv rt xai rapa xw6«r. [3] 
"Jealous and interfering," we translate it; but the translation is not very good— how should that 
overmastering Power be jealous of so poor a thing as Man? The thought is rather that the gods resent 
any success, any happiness, which might for a moment lift our mortality above its mortal status, and 
so encroach on their prerogative. 

Such ideas were of course not entirely new. In Iliad 24 Achilles, moved at last by the spectacle of 
his broken enemy Priam, pronounces the tragic moral of the whole poem: "For so the gods have spun 
the thread for pitiful humanity, that the life of Man should be sorrow, while themselves are exempt 
from care." And he goes on to the famous image of the two jars, from which Zeus draws forth his good 
and evil gifts. To some men he gives a mixed assortment, to others, unmixed evil, so that they wander 
tormented over the face of the earth, "unregarded by gods or men." [4] As for unmixed good, that, we 
are to assume, is a portion reserved for gods. The jars have nothing to do with justice: else the moral 
would be false. For in the Iliad heroism does not bring happiness; its sole, and sufficient, reward is 
fame. Yet for all that, Homer's princes bestride their world boldly; they fear the gods only as they fear 
their human overlords; nor are they oppressed by the future even when, like Achilles, they know that 
it holds an approaching doom. 



- 30 - 

So far, what we meet in the Archaic Age is not a different belief but a different emotional reaction to 
the old belief. Listen, for example, to Semonides of Amorgos: "Zeus controls the fulfilment of all that 
is, and disposes as he will. But insight does not belong to men: we live like beasts, always at the 
mercy of what the day may bring, knowing nothing of the outcome that God will impose upon our 
acts." 15 - 1 Or listen to Theognis: "No man, Cyrnus, is responsible for his own ruin or his own success: of 
both these things the gods are the givers. No man can perform an action and know whether its 
outcome will be good or bad .... Humanity in utter blindness follows its futile usages; but the gods 
bring all to the fulfilment that they have planned. " [61 The doctrine of man's helpless dependence on an 
arbitrary Power is not new; but there is a new accent of despair, a new and bitter emphasis on the 
futility of human purposes. We are nearer to the world of the Oedipus Rex than to the world of the 
I liad . 

It is much the same with the idea of divine phthonos or jealousy. Aeschylus was right when he 
called it "a venerable doctrine uttered long ago." [71 The notion that too much success incurs a 
supernatural danger, especially if one brags about it, has appeared independently in many different 
cultures 183 and has deep roots in human nature (we subscribe to it ourselves when we "touch wood"). 
The I liad ignores it, as it ignores other popular superstitions; but the poet of the Odyssey —always 
more tolerant of contemporary ways of thought— permits Calypso to exclaim in a temper that the gods 
are the most jealous beings in the world— they grudge one a little happiness. [91 It is plain, however, 
from the uninhibited boasting in which Homeric man indulges that he does not take the dangers of 
phthonos very seriously: such scruples are foreign to a shame-culture. It is only in the Late Archaic 
and Early Classical time that the phthonos idea becomes an oppressive menace, a source— or 
expression— of religious anxiety. Such it is in Solon, in Aeschylus, above all in Herodotus. For 
Herodotus, history is overdetermined: while it is overtly the outcome of human 



- 31 - 

purposes, the penetrating eye can detect everywhere the covert working of phthonos . In the same 
spirit the Messenger in the Persae attributes Xerxes' unwise tactics at Salamis to the cunning Greek 
who deceived him, and simultaneously to the phthonos of the gods working through an alastor or evil 
daemon: 1101 the event is doubly determined, on the natural and on the supernatural plane. 

By the writers of this age divine phthonos is sometimes, 1111 though not always, 1121 moralised as 
nemesis , "righteous indignation." Between the primitive offence of too much success and its 
punishment by jealous Deity, a moral link is inserted: success is said to produce koros —the 
complacency of the man who has done too well— which in turn generates hubris , arrogance in word or 
deed or even thought. Thus interpreted, the old belief appeared more rational, but it was not the less 
oppressive on that account. We see from the carpet scene in the Agamemnon how every manifestation 
of triumph arouses anxious feelings Of guilt: hubris has become the "primal evil," the sin whose wages 
is death, which is yet so universal that a Homeric hymn calls it the themis or established usage of 
mankind, and Archilochus attributes it even to animals. Men knew that it was dangerous to be 
happy. [131 But the restraint had no doubt its wholesome side. It is significant that when Euripides, 




writing in the new age of scepticism, makes his chorus lament the collapse of all moral standards, they 
see the culminating proof of that collapse in the fact that "it is no longer the common aim of men to 
escape the phthonos of the gods ."* 141 

The moralisation of phthonos introduces us to a second characteristic feature of archaic religious 
thought— the tendency to transform the supernatural in general, and Zeus in particular, into an agent 
of justice. I need hardly say that religion and morals were not initially interdependent, in Greece or 
elsewhere; they had their separate mots. I suppose that, broadly speaking, religion grows out of 
man's relationship to his total environment, morals out of his relation to his fallow-men. But sooner or 
later in most cultures there comes a time 



- 32 - 

of suffering when most people refuse to be content with Achilles' view, the view that "God's in his 
Heaven, all's wrong with the world." Man projects into the cosmos his own nascent demand for social 
justice; and when from the outer spaces the magnified echo of his own voice returns to him, promising 
punishment for the guilty, he draws from it courage and reassurance. 

In the Greek epic this stage has not yet been reached, but we can observe increasing signs of its 
approach. The gods of the Iliad are primarily concerned with their own honour To speak lightly 

of a god, to neglect his cult, to maltreat his priest, all these understandably make him angry; in a 
shame-culture gods, like men, are quick to resent a slight. Perjury comes under the same rubric: the 
gods have nothing against straightforward lying, but they do object to their names being taken in vain. 
Here and there, however, we get a hint of something more. Offences against parents constitute so 
monstrous a crime as to demand special treatment: the underworld Powers are constrained to take up 
the case . 115 - 1 (I shall come back to that later on.) And once we are told that Zeus is angry with men 
who judge crooked judgements . 1 But that I take to be a reflex of later conditions which, by an 
inadvertence common in Homer, has been allowed to slip into a simile .* 171 For I find no indication in 
the narrative of the Iliad that Zeus is concerned with justice as such .* 181 

In the Odyssey his interests are distinctly wider: not only does he protect suppliants 119 - 1 (who in 
the Iliad enjoy no such security), but "all strangers and beggars are from Zeus ";* 201 in fact, the 
Hesiodic avenger of the poor and oppressed begins to come in sight. The Zeus of the Odyssey is, 
moreover, becoming sensitive to moral criticism: men, he complains, are always finding fault with the 
gods, "for they say that their troubles come from us; whereas it is they who by their own wicked acts 
incur more trouble than they need ."* 211 Placed where it is, at the very beginning of the poem, the 
remark sounds, as the Germans say, "programmatic." And the programme is carried out. The suitors 
by their own wicked acts incur destruction ,* 221 while 



- 33 - 

Odysseus, heedful of divine monitions, triumphs against the odds: divine justice is vindicated. 

The later stages of the moral education of Zeus may be studied in Hesiod, in Solon, in Aeschylus; 
but I cannot here follow this progress in detail. I must, however, mention one complication which had 
far-reaching historical consequences. The Greeks were not so unrealistic as to hide from themselves 
the plain fact that the wicked flourished like a green bay-tree. Hesiod, Solon, Pindar, are deeply 
troubled by it, and Theognis finds it necessary to give Zeus a straight talk on the subject .* 231 It was 
easy enough to vindicate divine justice in a work of fiction like the Odyssey: as Aristotle observed, 
"poets tell this kind of story to gratify the desires of their audience ."* 241 It was not so easy in real life. 
In the Archaic Age the mills of God ground so slowly that their movement was practically imperceptible 
save to the eye of faith. In order to sustain the belief that they moved at all, it was necessary to get 
rid of the natural time-limit set by death. If you looked beyond that limit, you could say one (or both) 
of two things: you could say that the successful sinner would be punished in his descendants, or you 
could say that he would pay his debt personally in another life. 

The second of these solutions emerged, as a doctrine of general application, only late in the 
Archaic Age, and was possibly confined to fairly limited circles; I shall postpone its consideration to a 
later chapter. The other is the characteristic archaic doctrine: it is the teaching of Hesiod, of Solon and 
Theognis, of Aeschylus and Herodotus. That it involved the suffering of the morally innocent was not 
overlooked: Solon speaks of the hereditary victims of nemesis as ivalrwc, "not responsible"; Theognis 
complains of the unfairness of a system by which "the criminal gets away with it, while someone else 
takes the punishment later"; Aeschylus, if I understand him rightly. Would mitigate the unfairness by 
recognising that an inherited curse may be broken .* 251 That these men nevertheless accepted the idea 
of inherited guilt and deferred punishment is due to that belief in family solidarity which Archaic 




Greece 



- 34 - 

shared with other early societies^ 01 and with many primitive cultures to-day. [271 Unfair it might be, 
but to them it appeared as a law of nature, which must be accepted: for the family was a moral unit, 
the son's life was a prolongation of his father's, 1281 and he inherited his father's moral debts exactly as 
he inherited his commercial ones. Sooner or later, the debt exacted its own payment: as the Pythia 
told Croesus, the causal nexus of crime and punishment was moira , something that even a god could 
not break; Croesus had to complete or fulfil (frxXjjaai) what was begun by the crime of an ancestor five 
generations back. [291 

It was a misfortune for the Greeks that the idea of cosmic justice, which represented an advance 
on the old notion of purely arbitrary divine Powers, and provided a sanction for the new civic morality, 
should have been thus associated with a primitive conception of the family. For it meant that the 
weight of religious feeling and religious law was thrown against the emergence of a true view of the 
individual as a person, with personal rights and personal responsibilities. Such a view did eventually 
emerge in Attic secular law. As Glotz showed in his great book, La Solidarity de la famille en Grece 
, [3t>1 the liberation of the individual from the bonds of elan and family is one of the major 
achievements of Greek rationalism, and one for which the credit must go to Athenian democracy. But 
long after that liberation was complete in law, religious minds were still haunted by the ghost of the 
old solidarity. It appears from Plato that in the fourth century fingers were still pointed at the man 
shadowed by hereditary guilt, and he would still pay a cathartes to be given ritual relief from it. [31] 

And Plato himself, though he accepted the revolution in secular law, admits inherited religious guilt in 
certain eases. [321 A century later, Bion of Borysthenes still found it necessary to point out that in 
punishing the son for the father's offence God behaved like a physician who should dose the child to 
cure the father; and the devout Plutarch, who quotes this witticism, tries nevertheless to find a 
defence for the old doctrine in an appeal to the observed facts of heredity. [331 



- 35 - 

To return to the Archaic Age, it was also a misfortune that the functions assigned to the moralised 
Supernatural were predominantly, if not exclusively, penal. We hear much about inherited guilt, little 
about inherited innocence; much about the sufferings of the sinner in Hell or Purgatory, relatively little 
about the deferred rewards of virtue; the stress is always on sanctions. That no doubt reflects the 
juridical ideas of the time; criminal law preceded civil law, and the primary function of the state was 
coercive. Moreover, divine law, like early human law, takes no account of motive and makes no 
allowance for human weakness; it is devoid of that humane quality which the Greeks called {tmUuce or 
frXarOporrla., The proverbial saying popular in that age, that "all virtue is comprehended in justice, " [34] 
applies no less to gods than to men: there was little room for pity in either. That was not so in the 
Iliad: there Zeus pities the doomed Hector and the doomed Sarpedon; he pities Achilles mourning for 
his lost Patroclus, and even Achilles' horses mourning for their charioteer. [35 V^ 0v0 'l A 01 , AXX&jxo-oI rtp t 
he says in Iliad 21: "I care about them, though they perish." But in becoming the embodiment of 
cosmic justice Zeus lost his humanity. Hence Olympianism in its moralised form tended to become a 
religion of fear, a tendency which is reflected in the religious vocabulary. There is no word for 
"god-fearing" in the Iliad; but in the Odyssey to be is already an important virtue, and the prose 

equivalent, ittail&lpwV' was used as a term of praise right down to Aristotle's time. 1301 The love of god, 
on the other hand, is missing from the older Greek vocabulary: [371 ^tW0«w appears first in Aristotle. 

And in fact, of the major Olympians, perhaps only Athena inspired an emotion that could reasonably 
be described as love. "It would be eccentric," says the Magna Moralia , "for anyone to claim that he 
loved Zeus." [38 ' 

And that brings me to the last general trait which I want to stress— the universal fear of pollution 
(miasma ), and its correlate, the universal craving for ritual purification (catharsis ). Here once again 
the difference between Homer and the Archaic 



- 36 - 

Age is relative, not absolute; for it is a mistake to deny that a certain minimum of catharsis is 
practised in both epics. [39] But from the simple Homeric purifications, performed by laymen, it is a 
long step to the professional cathartai of the Archaic Age with their elaborate and messy rituals. And it 
is a longer step still from Telemachus' casual acceptance of a self-confessed murderer as a shipmate to 
the assumptions which enabled the defendant in a late fifth-century murder trial to draw presumptive 




proof of his innocence from the fact that the ship on which he travelled had reached port in safety. [40 -* 
We get a further measure of the gap if we compare Homer's version of the Oedipus saga with that 
familiar to us from Sophocles. In the latter, Oedipus becomes a polluted outcast, crushed under the 
burden of a guilt "which neither the earth nor the holy rain nor the sunlight can accept." But in the 
story Homer knew he continues to reign in Thebes after his guilt is discovered, and is eventually killed 
in battle and buried with royal honours. [41] It was apparently a later Mainland epic, the Thebais , that 
created the Sophoclean "man of sorrows. " [42] 

There is no trace in Homer of the belief that pollution was either infectious or hereditary. In the 
archaic view it was both, [43] and therein lay its terror: for how could any man be sure that he had not 
contracted the evil thing from a chance contact, or else inherited it from the forgotten offence of some 
remote ancestor? Such anxieties were the more distressing for their very vagueness— the impossibility 
of attaching them to a cause which could be recognised and dealt with. To see in these beliefs the 
origin of the archaic sense of guilt is probably an over-simplification; but they certainly expressed it, 
as a Christian's sense of guilt may express itself in the haunting fear of falling into mortal sin. The 
distinction between the two situations is of course that sin is a condition of the will, a disease of man's 
inner consciousness, whereas pollution is the automatic consequence of an action, belongs to the 
world of external events, and operates with the same ruthless indifference to motive as a typhoid 
germ. [44:i Strictly speaking, the archaic sense of guilt 



- 37 - 

becomes a sense of sin only as a result of what Kardiner^ 45 - 1 calls the "internalising" of conscience— a 
phenomenon which appears late and uncertainly in the Hellenic world, and does not become common 
until long after secular law had begun to recognise the importance of motive. [46] The transference of 
the notion of purity from the magical to the moral sphere was a similarly late development: not until 
the closing years of the fifth century do we encounter explicit statements that clean hands are not 
enough— the heart must be clean also. 147 - 1 

Nevertheless, we should, I think, be hesitant about drawing hard chronological lines: an idea is 
often obscurely at work in religious behaviour long before it reaches the point of explicit formulation. I 
think Pfister is probably right when he observes that in the old Greek word (the term which 
describes the worst kind of miasma ) the ideas of pollution, curse, and sin were already fused together 
at an early date. 148 ’ 1 And while catharsis in the Archaic Age was doubtless often no more than the 
mechanical fulfilment of a ritual obligation, the notion of an automatic, quasi-physical cleansing could 
pass by imperceptible gradations into the deeper idea of atonement for sin. [49:i There are some 
recorded instances where it is hardly possible to doubt that this latter thought was involved, e.g., in 
the extraordinary case of the Locrian Tribute. [50:| The people who in compensation for the crime of a 
remote ancestor were willing year after year, century after century, to send two daughters of their 
noblest families to be murdered in a distant country, or at best to survive there as temple 
slaves— these people, one would suppose, must have laboured not only under the fear of a dangerous 
pollution, but under the profound sense of an inherited sin which must be thus horribly atoned. 

I shall come back to the subject of catharsis in a later chapter. But it is time now to return to the 
notion of psychic intervention which we have already studied in Homer, and to ask what part it played 
in the very different religious context of the Archaic Age. The simplest way to answer this is to look at 
some post-Homeric usages of the word ate (or its prose equiva- 



- 38 - 

lent 0eo0XA0«a) and of the word daemon . If we do so, we shall find that in some respects the epic 
tradition is reproduced with remarkable fidelity. Ate still stands for irrational as distinct from rationally 
purposive behaviour: e.g., on hearing that Phaedra won't eat, the Chorus enquires whether this is due 
to ate or to a suicidal purpose. [51] Its seat is still the thumos or the phrenes , [52:| and the agencies 
that cause it are much the same as in Homer: mostly an unidentified daemon or god or gods; much 
more rarely a specific Olympian; 153 - 1 occasionally, as in Homer, Erinys 154 - 1 or moira; 155 - 1 once, as in 
the Odyssey , wine. 156 - 1 

But there are also important developments. In the first place, ate is often, though not always, 
moralised, by being represented as a punishment; this appears once only in Homer— in Iliad 9— and 
next in Hesiod, who makes ate the penalty of hubris and observes with relish that "not even a 
nobleman" can escape it. 1 573 Like other supernatural punishments, it will fall on the sinner's 
descendants if the "evil debt" is not paid in his lifetime. [58] Out of this conception of ate as 
punishment grows a wide extension of the word's meaning. It is applied not only to the sinner's state 
of mind, but to the objective disasters resulting from it: thus the Persians at Salamis experience 




"marine atai, " and the slaughtered sheep are the ate of Ajax. [59] Ate thus acquires the general sense 
of "ruin," in contrast with KlpScr or though in literature it always, I think, retains the 

implication that the ruin is supernaturally determined. And by a still further extension it is sometimes 
applied also to the instruments or embodiments of the divine anger: thus the Trojan Horse is an ate , 
and Antigone and Ismene are to Creon "a pair of atai ." [611 Such usages are rooted in feeling rather 
than in logic: what is expressed in them is the consciousness of a mysterious dynamic nexus, the 
pivot irr)t / as Aeschylus calls it, binding together crime and punishment; all the elements of that 
sinister unity are in a wide sense ate 

Distinct from this vaguer development is the precise theological interpretation which makes of ate 
not merely a punishment leading to physical disasters, but a deliberate deception 



- 39 - 

which draws the victim on to fresh error, intellectual or moral, whereby he hastens his own ruin— the 
grim doctrine that quern deus vult perdere, prius dementat . There is a hint of this in Iliad 9, where 
Agamemnon calls his ate an evil deception (|4»*rq|) contrived by Zeus (I. 21); but there is no general 
statement of the doctrine in Homer or Hesiod. The orator Lycurgus 163 - 1 attributes it to "certain old 
poets" unspecified and quotes from one of them a passage in iambics: "when the anger of the 
daemons is injuring a man, the first thing is that it takes the good understanding out of his mind and 
turns him to the worse judgement, so that he may not be aware of his own errors." Similarly 
Theognis [64] declares that many a man who is pursuing "virtue" and "profit" is deliberately misled by a 
daemon, who causes him to mistake evil for good and the profitable for the bad. Here the action of the 
daemon is not moralised in any way: he seems to be simply an evil spirit, tempting man to his 
damnation. 

That such evil spirits were really feared in the Archaic Age is also attested by the words of the 
Messenger in the Persae which I have already quoted in another connection: Xerxes was tempted by 
an "alastor or evil daemon." But Aeschylus himself knows better: as Darius' ghost explains later, the 
temptation was the punishment of hubris; [65] what to the partial vision of the living appears as the act 
of a fiend, is perceived by the wider insight of the dead to be an aspect of cosmic justice. In the 
Agamemnon we meet again the same interpretation on two levels. Where the poet, speaking through 
his Chorus, is able to detect the overmastering will of Zeus ( Ta, ’ aiT l<H' > |r<u'tpY/ra) [66] working itself out 
through an inexorable moral law, his characters see only a daemonic world, haunted by malignant 
forces. We are reminded of the distinction we observed in the epic between the poet's point of view 
and that of his characters. Cassandra sees the Erinyes as a band of daemons, drunken with human 
blood; to Clytemnestra's excited imagination, not only the Erinyes but ate itself are personal fiends to 
whom she has offered her husband as a human 



- 40 - 

sacrifice; there is even a moment when she feels her human personality lost and submerged in that of 
the alastor whose agent and instrument she was. C6/] This last I take to be an instance, not exactly of 
"possession" in the ordinary sense, but rather of what Levy-Bruhl calls "participation," the feeling that 
in a certain situation a person or thing is not only itself but also something else: I should compare the 
"cunning Greek" of the Persae who was also an alastor , and the priestess Timo in Herodotus, the 
woman who tempted Miltiades to sacrilege, concerning whom Apollo declared that "not Timo was the 
cause of these things, but because Miltiades was destined to end ill, one appeared to him to lead him 
into evil" [6o ~ ! —she had acted, not as a human person, but as the agent of a supernatural purpose. 

This haunted, oppressive atmosphere in which Aeschylus' characters move seems to us infinitely 
older than the clear air breathed by the men and gods of the I liad . That is why Glotz called Aeschylus 
"ce revenant de Mycenes" (though he added that he was also a man of his own time); that is why a 
recent German writer asserts that he "revived the world of the daemons, and especially the evil 
daemons. "t 69] But to speak thus is in my view completely to misapprehend both Aeschylus' purpose 
and the religious climate of the age in which he lived. Aeschylus did not have to revive the world of the 
daemons: it is the world into which he was born. And his purpose is not to lead his fellow-countrymen 
back into that world, but, on the contrary, to lead them through it and out of it. This he sought to do, 
not like Euripides by casting doubt on its reality through intellectual and moral argument, but by 
showing it to be capable of a higher interpretation, and, in the Eumenides , by showing it transformed 
through Athena's agency into the new world of rational justice. 

The daemonic, as distinct from the divine, has at all periods played a large part in Greek popular 
belief (and still does). People in the Odyssey , as we saw in chapter i, attribute many events in their 
lives, both mental and physical, to the agency 




- 41 - 

of anonymous daemons; we get the impression, however, that they do not always mean it very 
seriously. But in the age that lies between the Odyssey and the Oresteia , the daemons seem to draw 
closer: they grow more persistent, more insidious, more sinister. Theognis and his contemporaries did 
take seriously the daemon who tempts man to ate , as appears from the passages I quoted just now. 
And the belief lived on in the popular mind long after Aeschylus' day. The Nurse in the Medea knows 
that ate is the work of an angry daemon, and she links it up with the old idea of phthonos: the greater 
the household, the greater the ate; only the obscure are safe from it . 1703 And as late as the year 330 
the orator Aeschines could suggest, though with a cautious "perhaps," that a certain rude fellow who 
interrupted his speech at the Amphictyonic Council may have been led on to this unseemly behaviour 
by "something daemonic" (lo.ipovlovrw6t rapayopivov ). [71] 

Closely akin to this agent of ate are those irrational impulses which arise in a man against his will 
to tempt him. When Theognis calls hope and fear "dangerous daemons," or when Sophocles speaks of 
Eros as a power that "warps to wrong the righteous mind, for its destruction , " [721 we should not 
dismiss this as "personification": behind it lies the old Homeric feeling that these things are not truly 
part of the self, since they are not within man's conscious control; they are endowed with a life and 
energy of their own, and so can force a man, as it were from the outside, into conduct foreign to him. 
We shall see in later chapters that strong traces of this way of interpreting the passions survive even 
in writers like Euripides and Plato. 

To a different type belong the daemons projected by a particular human situation. As Professor 
Frankfort has said with reference to other ancient peoples, "evil spirits are often no more than the evil 
itself conceived as substantial and equipped with power . " [731 It is thus that the Greeks spoke of 
famine and pestilence as "gods," [74] and that the modern Athenian believes a certain cleft in the Hill 
of the Nymphs to be inhabited by three demons whose names are Cholera, Smallpox, and 



-42- 

Plague. These are powerful forces in whose grip mankind is helpless; and deity is power. It is thus that 
the persistent power and pressure of a hereditary pollution can take shape as the Aeschylean 
Salpu ¥ ytnn)t r and that, more specifically, the blood-guilt situation is projected as an Erinys . 175 - 1 Such 
beings, as we have seen, are not wholly external to their human agents and victims: Sophocles can 
speak of "an Erinys in the brain. " [76] Yet they are objective, since they stand for the objective rule 
that blood must be atoned; it is only Euripides 177 - 1 and Mr. T. S. Eliot who psychologist them as the 
pangs of conscience. 

A third type of daemon, who makes his first appearance in the Archaic Age, is attached to a 
particular individual, usually from birth, and determines, wholly or in part, his individual destiny. We 
meet him first in Hesiod and Phocylides. [7;iJ He represents the individual moira or "portion" of which 
Homer speaks , [791 but in the personal form which appealed to the imagination of the time. Often he 
seems to be no more than a man's "luck" or fortune, 80:1 but this luck is not conceived as an 
extraneous accident— it is as much part of a man's natal endowment as beauty or talent. Theognis 
laments that more depends on one's daemon than on one's character: if your daemon is of poor 
quality, mere good judgement is of no avail— your enterprises come to nothing . 1811 In vain did 
Heraclitus protest that "character is destiny" (^° r bOpimp !alpury r p e failed to kill the superstition. The 
words KModalpuv and Svo&alptar seem in fact to be fifth-century coinages (tMat/iwr is as old as Hesiod). In 
the fate which overtook great kings and generals— a Candaules or a Miltiades— Herodotus sees neither 
external accident nor the consequence of character, but "what had to be"— 

Xprjy 7 A p Kaj'Ja&Xjj yivlodu I 82 I pjndar piously reconciles this popular fatalism with the will of God: 
"the great purpose of Zeus directs the daemon of the men he loves . " [831 Eventually Plato picked up 
and completely transformed the idea, as he did with so many elements of popular belief: the daemon 
becomes a sort of lofty spirit-guide, or Freudian Super-ego , [841 who in the Timaeus is identified with 
the element of pure 



- 43 - 

reason in man. [85] In that glorified dress, made morally and philosophically respectable, he enjoyed a 
renewed lease of life in the pages of Stoics and Neoplatonists, and even of mediaeval Christian 
writers. [86] 

Such, then, were some of the daemons who formed part of the religious inheritance of the fifth 
century B.C. I have not attempted to draw anything like a complete picture of that inheritance. Certain 
other aspects of it will emerge in later chapters. But we cannot go further without pausing to ask 




ourselves a question, one which must already have formed itself in the mind of the reader. How are 
we to conceive the relationship between the "guilt-culture" I have been describing in these last pages 
and the "shame-culture" with which I dealt in the first chapter? What historical forces determined the 
differences between them? I have tried to indicate that the contrast is less absolute than some 
scholars have assumed. We have followed various threads that lead from Homer down into the 
imperfectly mapped jungle of the Archaic Age, and out beyond it into the fifth century. The 
discontinuity is not complete. Nevertheless, a real difference of religious outlook separates Homer's 
world even from that of Sophocles, who has been called the most Homeric of poets. Is it possible to 
make any guess at the underlying causes of that difference? 

To such a question we cannot hope to find any single, simple answer. For one thing, we are not 
dealing with a continuous historical evolution, by which one type of religious outlook was gradually 
transformed into another. We need not, indeed, adopt the extreme view that Homeric religion is 
nothing but a poetic invention, "as remote from reality and life as the artificial Homeric language. "* 87:i 
But there is good reason to suppose that the epic poets ignored or minimised many beliefs and 
practices which existed in their day but did not commend themselves to their patrons. For example, 
the old cathartic scapegoat-magic was practised in Ionia in the sixth century, and had presumably 
been brought there by the first colonists, since the same ritual was observed in Attica.^ 88 * The poets 
of the 



- 44 - 

Iliad and the Odyssey must have seen it done often enough. But they excluded it from their poems, as 
they excluded much else that seemed barbarous to them and to their upper-class audience. They give 
us, not something completely unrelated to traditional belief, but a selection from traditional belief— the 
selection that suited an aristocratic military culture, as Hesiod gives us the selection proper to a 
peasant culture. Unless we allow for this, comparison of the two will produce an exaggerated 
impression of historical discontinuity. 

Nevertheless, when all such allowances have been made, there is an important residue of 
differences which seem to represent, not different selections from a common culture, but genuine 
cultural changes. The development of some of these we can trace— scanty though our evidence 
is— within the limits of the Archaic Age itself. Even Pfister, for example, recognises "an undeniable 
growth of anxiety and dread in the evolution of Greek religion. " [89] it is true that the notions of 
pollution, of purification, of divine phthonos , may well be part of the original Indo-European 
inheritance. But it was the Archaic Age that recast the tales of Oedipus and Orestes as horror-stories 
of bloodguilt; that made purification a main concern of its greatest religious institution, the Oracle of 
Delphi; that magnified the importance of phthonos until it became for Herodotus the underlying 
pattern of all history. This is the sort of fact that we have to explain. 

I may as well confess at once that I have no complete explanation to give; I can only guess at 
some partial answers. No doubt general social conditions account for a good deal . 190 - 1 In Mainland 
Greece (and we are concerned here with Mainland tradition) the Archaic Age was a time of extreme 
personal insecurity. The tiny overpopulated states were just beginning to struggle up out of the misery 
and impoverishment left behind by the Dorian invasions, when fresh trouble arose: whole classes were 
mined by the great economic crisis of the seventh century, and this in turn was followed by the great 
political conflicts of the sixth, which translated the economic crisis into 



- 45 - 

terms of murderous class warfare. It is very possible that the resulting upheaval of social strata, by 
bringing into prominence submerged elements of the mixed population, encouraged the reappearance 
of old culture-patterns which the common folk had never wholly forgotten. [91] Moreover, insecure 
conditions of life might in themselves favour the development of a belief in daemons, based on the 
sense of man's helpless dependence upon capricious Power; and this in turn might encourage an 
increased resort to magical procedures, if Malinowski ^ 92 - 1 was right in holding that the biological 
function of magic is to relieve pent-up and frustrated feelings which can find no rational outlet. It is 
also likely, as I suggested earlier, that in minds of a different type prolonged experience of human 
injustice might give rise to the compensatory belief that there is justice in Heaven. It is doubtless no 
accident that the first Greek to preach divine justice was Hesiod— "the helots' poet," as King 
Cleomenes called him , 193 - 1 and a man who had himself smarted under "crooked judgements." Nor is it 
accidental that in this age the doom overhanging the rich and powerful becomes so popular a theme 
with poets 194 - 1 —in striking contrast to Homer, for whom, as Murray has observed, the rich men are 
apt to be specially virtuous. [95] 




With these safe generalities scholars more prudent than I am will rest content. So far as they go, I 
think they are valid. But as an explanation of the more specific developments in archaic religious 
feeling— particularly that growing sense of guilt— I cannot convince myself that they go the whole way. 
And I will risk the suggestion that they should be supplemented (but not replaced) by another sort of 
approach, which would start not from society at large but from the family. The family was the 
keystone of the archaic social structure, the first organised unit, the first domain of law. Its 
organisation, as in all Indo-European societies, was patriarchal; its law was patria potestas , [96:| The 
head of a household is its king, oUou> and his position is still described by Aristotle as analogous 
to that of a king. 197 - 1 Over his children his authority is in early times un- 



- 46 - 

limited: he is free to expose them in infancy, and in manhood to expel an erring or rebellious son from 
the community, as Theseus expelled Hippolytus, as Oeneus expelled Tydeus, as Strophios expelled 
Pylades, as Zeus himself cast out Hephaestos from Olympus for siding with his mother. [981 In relation 
to his father, the son had duties but no rights; while his father lived, he was a perpetual minor— a 
state of affairs which lasted at Athens down to the sixth century, when Solon introduced certain 
safeguards. [99] And indeed more than two centuries after Solon the tradition of family jurisdiction was 
still so strong that even Plato— who was certainly no admirer of the family— had to give it a place in his 
legislation . *- 10 °3 

So long as the old sense of family solidarity was unshaken, the system presumably worked. The 
son gave the father the same unquestioning obedience which in due course he would receive from his 
own children. But with the relaxation of the family bond, with the growing claim of the individual to 
personal rights and personal responsibility, we should expect those internal tensions to develop which 
have so long characterised family life in Western societies. That they had in fact begun to show 
themselves overtly in the sixth century, we may infer from Solon's legislative intervention. But there is 
also a good deal of indirect testimony to their covert influence. The peculiar horror with which the 
Greeks viewed offences against a father, and the peculiar religious sanctions to which the offender was 
thought to be exposed, are in themselves suggestive of strong repressions. [101] So are the many 
stories in which a father's curse produces terrible consequences— stories like those of Phoenix, of 
Hippolytus, of Pelops and his sons, of Oedipus and his sons— all of them, it would seem, products of a 
relatively late period, [102] when the position of the father was no longer entirely secure. Suggestive in 
a different way is the barbarous tale of Kronos and Ouranos, which Archaic Greece may have borrowed 
from a Hittite source. There the mythological projection of unconscious desires is surely 
transparent— as Plato perhaps felt when he declared that this story was fit to 



- 47 - 

be communicated only to a very few in some exceptional nvcrlipiov and should at all costs be kept from 
the young. [103:| But to the eye of the psychologist the most significant evidence is that afforded by 
certain passages in writers of the Classical Age. The typical example by which Aristophanes illustrates 
the pleasures of life in Cloudcuckooland, that dream-country of wish-fulfilment, is that if you up and 
thrash your father, people will admire you for it: it is icaXir instead of being c^x/x^ 104 - 1 A nc ] when 
Plato wants to illustrate what happens when rational controls are not functioning, his typical example 
is the Oedipus dream. His testimony is confirmed by Sophocles, who makes Jocasta declare that such 
dreams are common; and by Herodotus, who quotes one. [105:i It seems not unreasonable to argue 
from identical symptoms to some similarity in the cause, and conclude that the family situation in 
ancient Greece, like the family situation to-day, gave rise to infantile conflicts whose echoes lingered in 
the unconscious mind of the adult. With the rise of the Sophistic Movement, the conflict became in 
many households a fully conscious one: young men began to claim that they had a "natural right" to 
disobey their fathers. [106] But it is a fair guess that such conflicts already existed at the unconscious 
level from a very much earlier date— that in fact they go back to the earliest unconfessed stirrings of 
individualism in a society where family solidarity was still universally taken for granted. 

You see perhaps where all this is tending. The psychologists have taught us how potent a source 
of guilt-feelings is the pressure of unacknowledged desires, desires which are excluded from 
consciousness save in dreams or daydreams, yet are able to produce in the self a deep sense of moral 
uneasiness. This uneasiness often takes a religious form to-day; and if a similar feeling existed in 
Archaic Greece, this would be the natural form for it to take. For, to begin with, the human father had 
from the earliest times his heavenly counterpart: Zeus pater belongs to the Indo-European 
inheritance, as his Latin and Sanskrit equivalents indicate; and Calhoun has 




- 48 - 

shown how closely the status and conduct of the Homeric Zeus is modelled on that of the Homeric 
paterfamilias, [107 J the olxoio 4*a£. in cult also Zeus appears as a supernatural Head of the Household: 
as Patroos he protects the family, as Herkeios its dwelling, as Ktesios its property. It was natural to 
project on to the heavenly Father those curious mixed feelings about the human one which the child 
dared not acknowledge even to himself. That would explain very nicely why in the Archaic Age Zeus 
appears by turns as the inscrutable source of good and evil gifts alike; as the jealous god who grudges 
his children their heart's desire; [108] and finally as the awful judge, just but stern, who punishes 
inexorably the capital sin of self-assertion, the sin of hubris . (This last aspect corresponds to that 
phase in the development of family relations when the authority of the father is felt to need the 
support of a moral sanction; when "You will do it because I say so" gives place to "You will do it 
because it is right.") And secondly, the cultural inheritance which Archaic Greece shared with Italy and 
India 1109 - 1 included a set of ideas about ritual impurity which provided a natural explanation for 
guilt-feelings generated by repressed desires. An archaic Greek who suffered from such feelings was 
able to give them concrete form by telling himself that he must have been in contact with miasma , or 
that his burden was inherited from the religious offence of an ancestor. And, more important, he was 
able to relieve them by undergoing a cathartic ritual. Have we not here a possible clue to the part 
played in Greek culture by the idea of catharsis , and the gradual development from it, on the one 
hand of the notions of sin and atonement, on the other of Aristotle's psychological purgation, which 
relieves us of unwanted feelings through contemplating their projection in a work of art ? 1110 - 1 

I will not pursue these speculations further. They are clearly incapable of direct proof. At best, 
they may receive indirect confirmation if social psychology succeeds in establishing analogous 
developments in cultures more accessible to detailed study. Work on those lines is now being 
done , 1111 - 1 but it would be 



- 49 - 

premature to generalise its results. In the meantime, I shall not complain if classical scholars shake 
their heads over the foregoing remarks. And, to avoid misunderstanding, I would in conclusion 
emphasise two things. First, I do not expect this particular key, or any key, to open all the doors. The 
evolution of a culture is too complex a thing to be explained without residue in terms of any simple 
formula, whether economic or psychological, begotten of Marx or begotten of Freud. We must resist 
the temptation to simplify what is not simple. And secondly, to explain origins is not to explain away 
values. We should beware of underrating the religious significance of the ideas I have discussed 
to-day, even where, like the doctrine of divine temptation, they are repugnant to our moral 
sense. t 1121 Nor should we forget that out of this archaic guilt-culture there arose some of the 
profoundest tragic poetry that man has produced. It was above all Sophocles, the last great exponent 
of the archaic world-view, who expressed the full tragic significance of the old religious themes in their 
unsoftened, unmoralised forms— the overwhelming sense of human helplessness in face of the divine 
mystery, and of the ate that waits on all human achievement— and who made these thoughts part of 
the cultural inheritance of Western Man. Let me end this chapter by quoting a lyric from the Antigone 
which conveys far better than I could convey it the beauty and terror of the old beliefs. [ 113:1 



Blessed is he whose life has not tasted of evil. 

When God has shaken a house, the winds of madness 
Lash its breed till the breed is done: 

Even so the deep-sea swell 
Raked by wicked Thracian winds 
Scours in its running the subaqueous darkness, 

Churns the silt black from sea-bottom; 

And the windy cliffs roar as they take its shock. Here on the Labdacid house long we watched it piling, 
Trouble on dead men's trouble: no generation 
Frees the next from the stroke of God: 

Deliverance does not come. 



- 50 - 



The final branch of Oedipus 
Grew in his house, and a lightness hung above it: 

To-day they reap it with Death's red sickle, 

The unwise mouth and the tempter who sits in the brain. 



The power of God man's arrogance shall not limit: 




Sleep who takes all in his net takes not this, 

Nor the unflagging months of Heaven— ageless the Master 
Holds for ever the shimmering courts of Olympus. 

For time approaching, and time hereafter, 

And time forgotten, one rule stands: 

That greatness never 

Shall touch the life of man without destruction. 



Hope goes fast and far: to many it carries comfort, 

To many it is but the trick of light-witted desire— 

Blind we walk, till the unseen flame has trapped our footsteps. 
For old anonymous wisdom has left us a saying 
"Of a mind that God leads to destruction 
The sign is this— that in the end 
Its good is evil." 

Not long shall that mind evade destruction. 



- 64 - 



III 

The Blessings of Madness 

In the creative state a man is taken out of himself. He lets down as it were a bucket into his subconscious, and draws up 
something which is normally beyond his reach. 

E. M. FORSTER 



"OUR greatest blessings," says Socrates in the Phaedrus , "come to us by way of madness": 

rd fiiytarn T&v&yaB&v ylyvtrat M That is, of course, a conscious paradox. No doubt it 

startled the fourth-century Athenian reader hardly less than it startles us; for it is implied a little 

further on that most people in Plato's time regarded madness as something discreditable, an 

But the father of Western rationalism is not represented as maintaining the general proposition that it 

is better to be mad than sane, sick than sound. He qualifies his paradox with the words 

ffilp nbno% MxjutiSoulvrit' "provided the madness is given us by divine gift." And he proceeds to 

distinguish four types of this "divine madness," which are produced, he says, "by a divinely wrought 

change in our customary social norms" (Mfftlat r&rtluO&ruv The four types are: 

1) Prophetic madness, whose patron god is Apollo. 

2) Telestic or ritual madness, whose patron is Dionysus. 

3) Poetic madness, inspired by the Muses. 

4) Erotic madness, inspired by Aphrodite and Eros. 14 - 1 

About the last of these I shah have something to say in a later chapter; [5:| I do not propose to 
discuss it here. But it may be worth while to look afresh at the first three, not attempting 



- 65 - 

any exhaustive survey of the evidence, but concentrating on what may help us to find answers to two 
specific questions. One is the historical question: how did the Greeks come by the beliefs which 
underlie Plato's classification, and how far did they modify them under the influence of advancing 
rationalism? The other question is psychological: how far can the mental states denoted by Plato's 
"prophetic" and "ritual" madness be recognised as identical with any states known to modern 
psychology and anthropology? Both questions are difficult, and on many points we may have to be 
content with a verdict of non liquet . But I think they are worth asking. In attempting to deal with 
them I shall of course be standing, as we all stand, on the shoulders of Rohde, who traversed most of 
this ground very thoroughly in his great book Psyche . Since that book is readily available, both in 
German and in English, I shall not recapitulate its arguments; I shall, however, indicate one or two 
points of disagreement. 

Before approaching Plato's four "divine" types, I must first say something about his general 
distinction between "divine" madness and the ordinary kind which is caused by disease. The distinction 
is of course older than Plato. From Herodotus we learn that the madness of Cleomenes, in which most 




people saw the godsent punishment of sacrilege, was put down by his own countrymen to the effects 
of heavy drinking. And although Herodotus refuses to accept this prosaic explanation in Cleomenes' 
case, he is inclined to explain the madness of Cambyses as due to congenital epilepsy, and adds the 
very sensible remark that when the body is seriously deranged it is not surprising that the mind should 
be affected also . 17 - 1 So that he recognises at least two types of madness, one which is supernatural in 
origin (though not beneficent) and another which is due to natural causes. Empedocles and his school 
are also said to have distinguished madness arising ex purgamento animae from the madness due to 
bodily, ailments. ^ 

This, however, is relatively advanced thinking. We may doubt if any such distinction was drawn in 
earlier times. It is 



- 66 - 

the common belief of primitive peoples throughout the world that all types of mental disturbance are 
caused by supernatural interference. Nor is the universality of the belief very surprising. I suppose it to 
have originated in, and to be maintained by, the statements of the sufferers themselves. Among the 
commonest symptoms of delusional insanity to-day is the patient's belief that he is in contact with, or 
even identified with, supernatural beings or forces, and we may presume that it was not otherwise in 
antiquity; indeed, one such case, that of the fourth-century physician Menecrates, who thought he was 
Zeus, has been recorded in some detail, and forms the subject of a brilliant study by Otto 
Weinreich . 19 - 1 Epileptics, again, often have the sensation of being beaten with a cudgel by some 
invisible being; and the startling phenomena of the epileptic fit, the sudden falling down, the muscular 
contortions, the gnashing teeth and projecting tongue, have certainly played a part in forming the 
popular idea of possession. [lo:i It is not surprising that to the Greeks epilepsy was the "sacred 
disease" par excellence , or that they called it which— like our words "stroke," "seizure," 

"attack"— suggests the intervention of a daemon. [11] I should guess, however, that the idea of true 
possession, as distinct from mere psychic interference, derived ultimately from cases of secondary or 
alternating personality, like the famous Miss Beauchamp whom Morton Prince studied . [12:1 For here a 
new personality, usually differing widely from the old one in character, in range of knowledge, and 
even in voice and facial expression, appears suddenly to take possession of the organism, speaking of 
itself in the first person and of the old personality in the third. Such cases, relatively rare in modern 
Europe and America, seem to be found more often among the less advanced peoples, [ 13:1 and may 
well have been commoner in antiquity than they are to-day; I shall return to them later. From these 
cases the notion of possession would easily be extended to epileptics and paranoiacs; and eventually 
all types of mental disturbance, including such things as sleep-walking and the delirium of high 
fever, [14] would be put down 



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to daemonic agencies. And the belief, once accepted, naturally created fresh evidence in its own 
support by the operation of autosuggestion. [15:| 

It has long been observed that the idea of possession is absent from Homer, and the inference is 
sometimes drawn that it was foreign to the oldest Greek culture. We can, however, find in the Odyssey 
traces of the vaguer belief that mental disease is of supernatural origin. The poet himself makes no 
reference to it, but he once or twice allows his characters to use language which betrays its existence. 
When Melantho jeeringly calls the disguised Odysseus "knocked out of his senses," 

i.e., crazy, she is using a phrase which in origin probably implied daemonic intervention, though on her 
lips it may mean no more than we mean when we describe someone as "a bit touched." A little later, 
one of the suitors is jeering at Odysseus, and calls him Mnacrov AX^np. IrUiaaros (from irincdonu ) is 
not found elsewhere, and its meaning is disputed; but the sense "touched," i.e., crazy, given by some 
ancient scholars, is the most natural, and the one best suited to the context. [l7] Here again a 
supernatural "touch" is, I think, implied. And finally, when Polyphemus starts screaming, and the other 
Cyclopes, on asking what is the matter, are informed that "No-man is trying to kill him," they observe 
in response that "the sickness from great Zeus cannot be avoided," and piously recommend 
prayer. 1 18] They have concluded, I think, that he is mad: that is why they abandon him to his fate. In 
the light of these passages it seems fairly safe to say that the supernatural origin of mental disease 
was a commonplace of popular thought in Homer's time, and probably long before, though the epic 
poets had no particular interest in it and did not choose to commit themselves to its correctness; and 
one may add that it has remained a commonplace of popular thought in Greece down to our own 
day. [19 -* In the Classical Age, intellectuals might limit the range of "divine madness" to certain specific 
types. A few, like the author of the late-fifth-century treatise de morbo sacro , might even go the 




length 



- 68 - 

of denying that any sickness is more "divine" than any other, holding that every disease is "divine" as 
being part of the divine order, but every disease has also natural causes which human reason can 
discover— ufor* 0«Ta kcU ritna Avtfp&TU'aJ 201 But it is unlikely that popular belief was much affected by 
all this, at any rate outside a few great cultural centres. [21] Even at Athens, the mentally afflicted 
were still shunned by many, as being persons subject to a divine curse, contact with whom was 
dangerous: you threw stones at them to keep them away, or at least took the minimum precaution of 
spitting. [22] 

Yet if the insane were shunned, they were also regarded (as indeed they still are in Greece) [23] 
with a respect amounting to awe; for they were in contact with the supernatural world, and could on 
occasion display powers denied to common men. Ajax in his madness talks a sinister language "which 
no mortal taught him, but a daemon"; 124 - 1 Oedipus in a state of frenzy is guided by a daemon to the 
place where Jocasta's corpse awaits him. 125 - 1 We see why Plato in the Timaeus mentions disease as 
one of the conditions which favour the emergence of supernatural powers. [26] The dividing line 
between common insanity and prophetic madness is in fact hard to draw. And to prophetic, madness 
we must now turn. 

Plato (and Greek tradition in general) makes Apollo its patron; and out of the three examples 
which he gives, the inspiration of two— the Pythia and the Sibyl— was Apolline, [27:| the third instance 
being the priestesses of Zeus at Dodona. But if we are to believe Rohde [23] in this matter— and many 
people still do [29:i —Plato was entirely mistaken: prophetic madness was unknown in Greece before 
the coming of Dionysus, who forced the Pythia on Delphi; until then, Apolline religion had been, 
according to Rohde, "hostile to anything in the nature of ecstasy." Rohde had two reasons for thus 
rejecting the Greek tradition. One was the absence from Homer of any reference to inspired prophecy; 
the other was the impressive antithesis which his friend Nietzsche had drawn between the "rational" 



- 69 - 

religion of Apollo and the "irrational" religion of Dionysus. But I think Rohde was wrong. 

In the first place, he confused two things that Plato carefully distinguished— the Apolline 
mediumship which aims at knowledge, whether of the future or of the hidden present, and the 
Dionysiac experience which is pursued either for its own sake or as a means of mental healing, the 
mantic or mediumistic element being absent or quite subordinate. [30:| Mediumship is the rare gift of 
chosen individuals; Dionysiac experience is essentially collective or congregational— ^ 0<7< ^ <;T0t 
—and is so far from being a rare gift that it is highly infectious. And their methods are as different as 
their aims: the two great Dionysiac techniques— the use of wine and the use of the religious 
dance— have no part whatever in the induction of Apolline ecstasy. The two things are so distinct that 
the one seems most unlikely to be derived from the other. 

Furthermore, we know that ecstatic prophecy was practised from an early date in western Asia. Its 
occurrence in Phoenicia is attested by an Egyptian document of the eleventh century; and three 
centuries earlier still we find the Hittite king Mursili II praying for a "divine man" to do what Delphi was 
so often asked to do— to reveal for what sins the people were afflicted with a plague. * 31 ^ The latter 
example would become especially significant if we could accept, as Nilsson inclines to do, the guess of 
Hrozny, that Apollo, the sender and the healer of plague, is none other than a Hittite god 
Apulunas. [32 -* But in any case it seems to me reasonably certain, from the evidence afforded by the 
I Had , that Apollo was originally an Asiatic of some sort. 33] And in Asia, no less than in Mainland 
Greece, we find ecstatic prophecy associated with his cult. His oracles at Claros near Colophon and at 
Branchidae outside Miletus are said to have existed before the colonisation of Ionia, [34] and at both 
ecstatic prophecy appears to have been practised. [35:| It is true that our evidence on the latter point 
comes from late authors; but at Patara in Lycia— which is thought by some to be Apollo's original 
homeland, and was 



- 70 - 

certainly an early centre of his cult— at Patara we know from Herodotus that the prophetess was 
locked into the temple at night, with a view to mystic union with the god. Apparently she was thought 
to be at once his medium and his bride, as Cassandra should have been, and as Cook and Latte 
conjecture the Pythia to have been originally. [36] That points fairly plainly to ecstatic prophecy at 
Patara, and Delphic influence is here very unlikely. 




I conclude that the prophetic madness is at least as old in Greece as the religion of Apollo. And it 
may well be older still. If the Greeks were right in connecting pirru with lialvonai — and most philologists 
think they were [37 * —the association of prophecy and madness belongs to the Indo-European stock of 
ideas. Homer's silence affords no sound argument to the contrary; we have seen before that Homer 
could keep his mouth shut when he chose. We may notice, moreover, that in this matter as in others 
the Odyssey has a somewhat less exacting standard of seemliness, of epic dignity, than has the Iliad . 
The Iliad admits only inductive divination from omens, but the Odyssey -poet cannot resist introducing 
something more sensational— an example of what the Scots call second-sight. [38 * The symbolic vision 
of the Apolline hereditary seer Theoclymenus in Book 20 belongs to the same psychological category 
as the symbolic visions of Cassandra in the Agamemnon , and the vision of that Argive prophetess of 
Apollo who, as Plutarch tells, rushed one day into the streets, crying out that she saw the city filled 
with corpses and blood. [39 * This is one ancient type of prophetic madness. But it is not the usual 
oracular type; for its occurrence is spontaneous and incalculable. [4 °* 

At Delphi, and apparently at most of his oracles, Apollo relied, not on visions like those of 
Theoclymenus, but on "enthusiasm" in its original and literal sense. The Pythia became entheos, plena 
deo : [41 * the god entered into her and used her vocal organs as if they were his own, exactly as the 
so-called "control" does in modern spirit-mediumship; that is why Apollo's Delphic utterances are 
always couched in the first person, never 



- 71 - 

in the third. There were, indeed, in later times, those who held that it was beneath the dignity of a 
divine being to enter into a mortal body, and preferred to believe like many psychical researchers in 
our own day— that all prophetic madness was due to an innate faculty of the soul itself, which it could 
exercise in certain conditions, when liberated by sleep, trance, or religious ritual both from bodily 
interference and from rational control. This opinion is found in Aristotle, Cicero, and Plutarch; 142 - 1 and 
we shall see in the next chapter that it was used in the fifth century to account for prophetic dreams. 
Like the other, it has abundant savage parallels; we may call it the "shamanistic" view, in contrast with 
the doctrine of possession. [43 * But as an explanation of the Pythia's powers it appears only as a 
learned theory, the product of philosophical or theological reflection; there can be little doubt that her 
gifts were originally attributed to possession, and that this remained the usual view throughout 
antiquity— it did not occur even to the Christian Fathers to question it. [44 * 

Nor was prophetic possession confined to official oracles. Not only were legendary figures like 
Cassandra, Bakis, and the Sibyl believed to have prophesied in a state of possession/ 45 -* but Plato 
refers frequently to inspired prophets as a familiar contemporary type. [46 * In particular, some sort of 
private mediumship was practised in the Classical Age, and for long afterwards, by the persons known 
as "belly-talkers," and later as "pythons. " [47 * I should like to know more about these "belly-talkers," 
one of whom, a certain Eurycles, was famous enough to be mentioned both by Aristophanes and by 
Plato. [48 * But our direct information amounts only to this, that they had a second voice inside them 
which carried on a dialogue with them/ 49 -* predicted the future, and was believed to belong to a 
daemon. They were certainly not ventriloquists in the modern sense of the term, as is often 
assumed. [5 °* A reference in Plutarch seems to imply that the voice of the daemon— presumably a 
hoarse "belly-voice"— was heard speaking through their lips; on the other hand, a scholiast on Plato 
writes as if the voice were 



- 72 - 

merely an inward monition. [51 * Scholars have overlooked, however, one piece of evidence which not 
only excludes ventriloquism but strongly suggests trance: an old Hippocratic case-book, the Epidemiae 
, compares the noisy breathing of a heart patient to that of "the women called belly-talkers." 
Ventriloquists do not breathe stertorously; modern "trance mediums" often do. [52 * 

Even on the psychological state of the Pythia our information is pretty scanty. One would like to be 
told how she was chosen in the first instance, and how prepared for her high office; but practically all 
we know with certainty is that the Pythia of Plutarch's day was the daughter of a poor farmer, a 
woman of honest upbringing and respectable life, but with little education or experience of the 
world. [53 * One would like, again, to know whether on coming out of trance she remembered what she 
had said in the trance state, in other words, whether her "possession" was of the somnambulistic or 
the lucid type. [54 * Of the priestesses of Zeus at Dodona it is definitely reported that they did not 
remember; but for the Pythia we have no decisive statement. [55 * We know, however, from Plutarch 
that she was not always affected in the same manner/ 56 * and that occasionally things went badly 
wrong, as they have been known to do at modern seances. He reports the case of a recent Pythia who 




had gone into trance reluctantly and in a state of depression, the omens being unfavourable. From the 
outset she spoke in a hoarse voice, as if distressed, and appeared to be filled with "a dumb and evil 
spirit "; 157 - 1 finally she rushed screaming towards the door and fell to the ground, whereupon all those 
present, and even the Prophetes , fled in terror. When they came back to pick her up, they found her 
senses restored 581 but she died within a few days. There is no reason to doubt the substantial truth 
of this story, which has parallels in other cultures . [ 59:1 Plutarch probably had it at first hand from the 
Prophetes Nicander, a personal friend of his, who was actually present at the horrid scene. It is 
important as showing both that the trance was still genuine in Plutarch's day, and 



- 73 - 

that it could be witnessed not only by the Prophetes and some of the Hosioi , but by the enquirers. [60J 
Incidentally, the change of voice is mentioned by Plutarch elsewhere as a common feature of 
"enthusiasm." It is no less common in later accounts of possession, and in modern spirit mediums. *- slJ 
I take it as fairly certain that the Pythia's trance was auto-suggestively induced, like mediumistic 
trance to-day. It was preceded by a series of ritual acts: she bathed, probably in Castalia, and perhaps 
drank from a sacred spring; she established contact with the god through his sacred tree, the laurel, 
either by holding a laurel branch, as her predecessor Themis does in a fifth-century vase painting, or 
by fumigating herself with burnt laurel leaves, as Plutarch says she did, or perhaps sometimes by 
chewing the leaves, as Lucian asserts; and finally she seated herself on the tripod, thus creating a 
further contact with the god by occupying his ritual seat . 1 - 62 - 1 All these are familiar magical procedures, 
and might well assist the autosuggestion; but none of them could have any physiological 
effect— Professor Oesterreich once chewed a large quantity of laurel leaves in the interests of science, 
and was disappointed to find himself no more inspired than usual . [631 The same applies to what is 
known of the procedure at other Apolline oracles— drinking from a sacred spring at Claros and possibly 
at Branchidae, drinking the blood of the victim at Argos. [54:| As for the famous "vapours" to which the 
Pythia's inspiration was once confidently ascribed, they are a Hellenistic invention, as Wilamowitz was, 

I think, the first to point out. [6b] Plutarch, who knew the facts, saw the difficulties of the vapour 
theory, and seems finally to have rejected it altogether; but like the Stoic philosophers, 
nineteenth-century scholars seized with relief on a nice solid materialist explanation. Less has been 
heard of this theory since the French excavations showed that there are to-day no vapours, and no 
"chasm" from which vapours could once have corned 661 Explanations of this type are really quite 
needless; if one or two living scholars still cling to 



- 74 - 

them , 167 - 1 it is only because they ignore the evidence of anthropology and abnormal psychology. 

Scholars who attributed the Pythia's trance to inhaling mephitic gases naturally concluded that her 
"ravings" bore little relation to the response eventually presented to the enquirer; the responses must 
on this view be products of conscious and deliberate fraud, and the reputation of the Oracle must have 
rested partly on an excellent intelligence service, partly on the wholesale forgery of oracles post 
eventum . There is one piece of evidence, however, which suggests, for what it is worth, that in early 
times the responses were really based on the Pythia's words: when Cleomenes suborned the Oracle to 
give the reply he wanted, the person whom his agent approached was, if we can trust Herodotus, not 
the Prophetes or one of the Hosioi , but the Pythia herself; and the desired result fol lowed. toS] And if 
in later days, as Plutarch implies, the enquirers were, on some occasions at least, able to hear the 
actual words of the entranced Pythia, her utterances could scarcely on such occasions be radically 
falsified by the Prophetes . Nevertheless, one cannot but agree with Professor Parke that "the history 
of Delphi shows sufficient traces of a consistent policy to convince one that human intelligence at some 
point could play a deciding part in the process. " f69] And the necessity of reducing the Pythia's words 
to order, relating them to the enquiry, and— sometimes, but not always 170 - 1 —putting them into verse, 
clearly did offer considerable scope for the intervention of human intelligence. We cannot see into the 
minds of the Delphic priesthood, but to ascribe such manipulations in general to conscious and cynical 
fraud is, I suspect, to oversimplify the picture. Anyone familiar with the history of modern spiritualism 
will realise what an amazing amount of virtual cheating can be done in perfectly good faith by 
convinced believers. 

Be that as it may, the rarity of open scepticism about Delphi before the Roman period is very 
striking . 171 - 1 The prestige of the Oracle must have been pretty deeply rooted to survive its scandalous 
behaviour during the Persian Wars. Apollo on that 




- 75 - 

occasion showed neither prescience nor patriotism, yet his people did not turn away from him in 
disgust; on the contrary, his clumsy attempts to cover his tracks and eat his words appear to have 
been accepted without question. [72:| The explanation must, I think, be sought in the social and 
religious conditions described in the preceding chapter. In a guilt-culture, the need for supernatural 
assurance, for an authority transcending man's, appears to be overwhelmingly strong. But Greece had 
neither a Bible nor a Church ; [731 that is why Apollo, vicar on earth of the heavenly Father, [74] came 
to fill the gap. Without Delphi, Greek society could scarcely have endured the tensions to which it was 
subjected in the Archaic Age. The crushing sense of human ignorance and human insecurity, the dread 
of divine phthonos , the dread of miasma —the accumulated burden of these things would have been 
unendurable without the assurance which such an omniscient divine counsellor could give, the 
assurance that behind the seeming chaos there was knowledge and purpose. "I know the count of the 
sand grains and the measures of the sea"; or, as another god said to another people, "the very hairs 
of your head are all numbered." Out of his divine knowledge, Apollo would tell you what to do when 
you felt anxious or frightened; he knew the rules of the complicated game that the gods play with 
humanity; he was the supreme "Averter of Evil." The Greeks believed in their Oracle, not 

because they were superstitious fools, but because they could not do without believing in it. And when 
the importance of Delphi declined, as it did in Hellenistic times, the main reason was not, I suspect, 
that men had grown (as Cicero thought) more sceptical, [75:| but rather that other forms of religious 
reassurance were now available. 

So much for prophetic madness. With Plato's other types I can deal more briefly. On what Plato 
meant by "telestic" or ritual madness, much light has recently been thrown in two important papers by 
Professor Linforth; [76] and I need not repeat things which he has already said better than I could say 
them. Nor shall I repeat here what I have myself said in print 177 - 1 about 



- 76 - 

what I take to be the prototype of ritual madness, the Dionysiac iptiflavla or mountain dancing. I 
should like, however, to make some remarks of a more general character. 

If I understand early Dionysiac ritual aright, its social function was essentially cathartic, [7b ^ in the 
psychological sense: it purged the individual of those infectious irrational impulses which, when 
dammed up, had given rise, as they have done in other cultures, to outbreaks of dancing mania and 
similar manifestations of collective hysteria; it relieved them by providing them with a ritual outlet. If 
that is so, Dionysus was in the Archaic Age as much a social necessity as Apollo; each ministered in his 
own way to the anxieties characteristic of a guilt-culture. Apollo promised security: "Understand your 
station as man; do as the Father tells you; and you will be safe to-morrow." Dionysus offered 
freedom: "Forget the difference, and you will find the identity; join the Karov, and you will be happy 
to-day." He was essentially a god of joy, To\vyvWl*, as Hesiod calls him; x^ppa Pporotaiy r as Homer 
says . 1 - 79 - 1 And his joys were accessible to all, including even slaves, as well as those freemen who were 
shut out from the old gentile cults. [8o:i Apollo moved only in the best society, from the days when he 
was Hector's patron to the days when he canonised aristocratic athletes; but Dionysus was at all 
periods IJijporixty a god of the people. 

The joys of Dionysus had an extremely wide range, from the simple pleasures of the country 
bumpkin, dancing a jig on greased wineskins, to the bpoQbyot x A P‘* of the ecstatic bacchanal. At both 
levels, and at all the levels between, he is Lusios, "the Liberator"— the god who by very simple means, 
or by other means not so simple, enables you for a short time to stop being yourself , and thereby 
sets you free. That was, I think, the main secret of his appeal to the Archaic Age: not only because life 
in that age was often a thing to escape from, but more specifically because the individual, as the 
modern world knows him, began in that age to emerge for the first time from the old solidarity of the 
family, [8iJ and found the unfamiliar 



- 77 - 

burden of individual responsibility hard to bear. Dionysus could lift it from him. For Dionysus was the 
Master of Magical Illusions, who could make a vine grow out of a ship's plank, and in general enable 
his votaries to see the world as the world's not. [82] As the Scythians in Herodotus put it, "Dionysus 
leads people on to behave madly"— which could mean anything from "letting yourself go" to becoming 
"possessed. " [E3] The aim of his cult was ecstasis —which again could mean anything from "taking you 
out of yourself" to a profound alteration of personality. [84] And its psychological function was to satisfy 
and relieve the impulse to reject responsibility, an impulse which exists in all of us and can become 
under certain social conditions an irresistible craving. We may see the mythical prototype of this 




homoeopathic cure in the story of Melampus, who healed the Dionysiac madness of the Argive women 
"with the help of ritual cries arid a sort of possessed dancing. " [85:! 

With the incorporation of the Dionysiac cult in the civic religion, this function was gradually 
overlaid by othersT b6] The cathartic tradition seems to have been carried on to some extent by 
private Dionysiac associations. [87] But in the main the cure of the afflicted had in the Classical Age 
passed into the hands of other cults. We have two lists of the Powers whom popular thought in the 
later fifth century associated with mental or psycho-physical disturbances, and it is significant that 
Dionysus does not figure in either. One occurs in the Hippolytus , the other in the de morbo sacro , [88 " 
Both lists include Hecate and the "Mother of the Gods" or "Mountain Mother" (Cybele); Euripides adds 
Pan [89] and the Corybantes; Hippocrates adds Poseidon, Apollo Nomios, and Ares, as well as the 
"heroes," who are here simply the unquiet dead associated with Hecate. All these are mentioned as 
deities who cause mental trouble. Presumably all could cure what they had caused, if their anger were 
suitably appeased. But by the fifth century the Corybantes at any rate had developed a special ritual 
for the treatment of madness. The Mother, it would appear, had done likewise (if indeed her cult was 
at that time distinct from that of 



- 78 - 

the Corybantes); [90] and possibly Hecate also. 191 - 1 But about these we have no detailed information. 
About the Corybantic treatment we do know something, and Linforth's patient examination has 
dissipated much of the fog that surrounded the subject. I shall content myself with stressing a few 
points which are relevant to the particular questions I have in mind. 



1) We may note first the essential similarity of the Corybantic to the old Dionysiac cure: both 
claimed to operate a catharsis by means of an infectious "orgiastic" dance accompanied by the same 
kind of "orgiastic" music— tunes in the Phrygian mode played on the flute and the kettledrum. [92:| It 
seems safe to infer that the two cults appealed to similar psychological types and produced similar 
psychological reactions. Of these reactions we have, unhappily, no precise description, but they were 
evidently striking. On Plato's testimony, the physical symptoms of ol Kopv(3a.murTtr included fits of 
weeping and violent beating of the heart, [93 -* and these were accompanied by mental disturbance; the 
dancers were "out of their minds," like the dancers of Dionysus, and apparently fell into a kind of 
trance. [94] In that connection we should remember Theophrastus' remark that hearing is the most 
emotive (xoftjTuwrAnjj') of all the senses, as well as the singular moral effects which Plato attributes to 
music. [93:| 



2) The malady which the Corybantes professed to cure is said by Plato to consist in "phobies or 
anxiety-feelings (Jelfiara) arising from some morbid mental condition. " [96] The description is fairly 
vague, and Linforth is doubtless right in saying that antiquity knew no specific disease of 
"Corybantism." 197 - 1 If we can trust Aristides Quintilianus, or his Peripatetic source, the symptoms 
which found relief in Dionysiac ritual were of much the same nature. [98] It is true that certain people 
did try to distinguish different types of "possession" by their outward manifestations, as appears from 
the passage in de morbo sacro But the real test seems to have been the patient's response to a 
particular ritual: if the rites of a god X stimulated him and produced a catharsis, that showed that his 
trouble was due to 



- 79 - 

X ; 1 10 °I jf )-, e f a j|ed to react, the cause must lie elsewhere. Like the old gentleman in Aristophanes' 
parody, if he did not respond to the Corybantes, he might then perhaps try Hecate, or fall back on the 
general practitioner Asclepius. [ 101:1 Plato tells us in the Ion that ol KopufiavuuvTtt "have a sharp ear for 
one tune only, the one which belongs to the god by whom they are possessed, and to that tune they 
respond freely with gesture and speech, while they ignore all others." I am not sure whether 
ol KopvfiavnuvTn is here used loosely as a general term for "people in an anxiety-state," who try one 
ritual after another, or whether it means "those who take part in the Corybantic ritual"; on the second 
view, the Corybantic performance must have included different types of religious music, introduced for 
a diagnostic purposed 102] But in any case the passage shows that the diagnosis was based on the 
patient's response to music. And diagnosis was the essential problem, as it was in all cases of 
"possession": once the patient knew what god was causing his trouble, he could appease him by the 
appropriate sacrifices. [103] 

3) The whole proceeding, and the presuppositions on which it rested, are highly primitive. But we 
cannot dismiss it— and this is the final point I want to stress zither as a piece of back-street atavism or 
as the morbid vagary of a few neurotics. A casual phrase of Plato's 1 104:1 appears to imply that Socrates 
had personally taken -part in the Corybantic rites; it certainly shows, as Linforth has pointed out, that 




intelligent young men of good family might take part in them. Whether Plato himself accepted all the 
religious implications of such ritual is an open question, to be considered later ; 1105 - 1 but both he and 
Aristotle evidently regard it as at least a useful organ of social hygiene— they believe that it works , 
and works for the good of the participants. [106] And in fact analogous methods appear to have been 
used by laymen in Hellenistic and Roman times for the treatment of certain mental disorders. Some 
form of musical catharsis had been practised by Pythagoreans in the fourth century, and perhaps 
earlier ; [107 - 1 but the Peripatetic school seems to have been the first who studied it in the light of 
physiology 



- 80 - 

and the psychology of the emotions . [108 - 1 Theophrastus, like Plato, believed that music was good for 
anxiety-states . [100 - 1 In the first century B.C. we find Asclepiades, a fashionable physician at Rome, 
treating mental patients by means of "symphonia"; and in the Antonine Age Soranus mentions flute 
music among the methods used in his day for the treatment either of depression or of what we should 
call hysteria . ^ 110 - 1 Thus the old magico-religious catharsis was eventually detached from its religious 
context and applied in the field of lay psychiatry, to supplement the purely physical treatment which 
the Hippocratic doctors had used. 

There remains Plato's third type of "divine" madness, the type which he defines as "possession ( 
l*aro«i))rf|) by the Muses" and declares to be indispensable to the production of the best poetry. How old 
is this notion, and what was the original connection between poets and Muses? 

A connection of some sort goes back, as we all know, to epic tradition. It was a Muse who took 
from Demodocus his bodily vision, and gave him something better, the gift of song, because she loved 
him . 1111 - 1 By grace of the Muses, says Hesiod, some men are poets, as others are kings by grace of 
Zeus . 1112 - 1 We may safely assume that this is not yet the empty language of formal compliment which 
it was later to become; it has religious meaning. And up to a point the meaning is plain enough: like 
all achievements which are not wholly dependent on the human will, poetic creation contains an 
element which is not "chosen," but "given "; 1113 - 1 and to old Greek piety "given" signifies "divinely 
given . " [114 - 1 It is not quite so clear in what this "given" element consists; but if we consider the 
occasions on which the I liad -poet himself appeals to the Muses for help, we shall see that it falls on 
the side of content and not of form. Always he asks the Muses what he is to say, never how he is to 
say it; and the matter he asks for is always factual. Several times he requests information about 
important battles ; 1115 - 1 once, in his most elaborate invocation, he begs to be inspired with an Army 
List— "for you are goddesses, watching all things, know- 



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ing all things; but we have only hearsay and not knowledge. " [116] These wistful words have the ring 
of sincerity; the man who first used them knew the fallibility of tradition and was troubled by it; he 
wanted first-hand evidence. But in an age which possessed no written documents. Where should 
first-hand evidence be found? Just as the truth about the future would be attained only if man were in 
touch with a knowledge wider than his own, so the truth about the past could be preserved only on a 
like condition. Its human repositories, the poets, had (like the seers) their technical resources, their 
professional training; but vision of the past, like insight into the future, remained a mysterious faculty, 
only partially under its owner's control, and dependent in the last resort on divine grace. By that grace 
poet and seer alike enjoyed a knowledge 1117 - 1 denied to other men. In Homer the two professions are 
quite distinct; but we have good reason to believe that they had once been united , 11181 and the 
analogy between them was still felt. 

The gift, then, of the Muses, or one of their gifts, is the power of true speech. And that is just 
what they told Hesiod when he heard their voice on Helicon, though they confessed that they could 
also on occasion tell a pack of lies that counterfeited truth . 1119 - 1 What particular lies they had in mind 
we do not know; possibly they meant to hint that the true inspiration of saga was petering out in mere 
invention, the sort of invention we can observe in the more recent portions of the Odyssey . Be that as 
it may, it was detailed factual truth that Hesiod sought from them, but facts of a new kind, which 
would enable him to piece together the traditions about the gods and fill the story out with all the 
necessary names and relationships. Hesiod had a passion for names, and when he thought of a new 
one, he did not regard it as something he had just invented; he heard it, I think, as something the 
Muse had given him, and he knew or hoped that it was "true." He in fact interpreted in terms of a 
traditional belief-pattern a feeling which has been shared by many later writers 1120 - 1 —the feeling that 
creative thinking is not the work of the ego . 




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It was truth, again, that Pindar asked of the Muse. "Give me an oracle," he says, "and I will be your 
spokesman (Tpo^areGatii)."! 121 ] The words he uses are the technical terms of Delphi; implicit in them is 
the old analogy between poetry and divination. Bat observe that it is the Muse, and not the poet, who 
plays the part of the Pythia; the poet does not ask to be himself "possessed," but only to act as 
interpreter for the entranced Muse . 1122 - 1 And that seems to be the original relationship. Epic tradition 
represented the poet as deriving supernormal knowledge from the Muses, but not as falling into 
ecstasy or being possessed by them. 

The notion of the "frenzied" poet composing in a state of ecstasy appears not to be traceable 
further back than the fifth century. It may of course be older than that; Plato calls it an old story, 
wa\aids pi I should myself guess it to be a by-product of the Dionysiac movement with its 
emphasis on the value of abnormal mental states, not merely as avenues to knowledge, but for their 
own sake . 1124 - 1 But the first writer whom we know to have talked about poetic ecstasy is Democritus, 
who held that the finest poems were those composed (itr'lnOovaiaapw xai hpov x vtbparot i "with 
inspiration and a holy breath," and denied that anyone could be a great poet sine furore . [125:| As 
recent scholars have emphasised, [126] it is to Democritus, rather than to Plato, that we must assign 
the doubtful credit of having introduced into literary theory this conception of the poet as a man set 
apart from common humanity 1127 - 1 by an abnormal inner experience, and of poetry as a revelation 
apart from reason and above reason. Plato's attitude to these claims was in fact a decidedly critical 
one— but that is matter for a later chapter. 



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IV 

Dream- Pattern And Culture- Pattern 

S'il etait donne a nos yeux de chair de voir dans la conscience d'autrui, on jugerait bien plus surement un homme 
d'apres ce qu'il reve rue d'apres ce qu'il pense. 

VICTOR HUGO 



MAN Shares with a few others of the higher mammals the curious privilege of citizenship in two 
worlds. He enjoys in daily alternation two distinct kinds of experience— and Srop, as the Greeks 
called them— each of which has its own logic and its own limitations; and he has no obvious reason for 
thinking one of them more significant than the other. If the waking world has certain advantages of 
solidity and continuity, its social opportunities are terribly restricted. In it we meet, as a rule, only the 
neighbours, whereas the dream world offers the chance of intercourse, however fugitive, with our 
distant friends, our dead, and our gods. For normal men it is the sole experience in which they escape 
the offensive and incomprehensible bondage of time and space. Hence it is not surprising that man 
was slow to confine the attribute of reality to one of his two worlds, and dismiss the other as pure 
illusion. This stage was reached in antiquity only by a small number of intellectuals; and there are still 
to-day many primitive peoples who attribute to certain types of dream experience a validity equal to 
that of waking life, though different in kind . 11 - 1 Such simplicity drew pitying smiles from 
nineteenth-century missionaries; but our own age has discovered that the primitives were in principle 
nearer the truth than the missionaries. Dreams, 



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as it now appears, are highly significant after all; the ancient art of oneirocritice once more provides 
clever men with a lucrative livelihood, and the most highly educated of our contemporaries hasten to 
report their dreams to the specialist with as grave an anxiety as the Superstitious Man of 
Theophrastus. [2] 

Against this historical background it seems worth while to look afresh at the attitude of the Greeks 
towards their dream-experience, and to this subject I propose to devote the present chapter. There 
are two ways of looking at the recorded dream-experience of a past culture: we may try to see it 
through the eyes of the dreamers themselves, and thus reconstruct as far as may be what it meant to 




their waking consciousness; or we may attempt, by applying principles derived from modern 
dream-analysis, to penetrate from its manifest to its latent content. The latter procedure is plainly 
hazardous: it rests on an unproved assumption about the universality of dream-symbols which we 
cannot control by obtaining the dreamer's associations. That in skilled and cautious hands it might 
nevertheless yield interesting results, I am willing to believe; but I must not be beguiled into essaying 
it. My main concern is not with the dream-experience of the Greeks, but with the Greek attitude to 
dream-experience. In so defining our subject we must, however, bear in mind the possibility that 
differences between the Greek and the modern attitude to dreams may reflect not only different ways 
of interpreting the same type of experience, but also variations in the character of the experience 
itself. For recent enquiries into the dreams of contemporary primitives suggest that, side by side with 
the familiar anxiety-dreams and wish-fulfilment dreams that are common to humanity, there are 
others whose manifest content, at any rate, is determined by a local culture-pattern. And I do not 
mean merely that where, for example, a modern American might dream of travelling by 'plane, a 
primitive will dream that he is carried to Heaven by an eagle; I mean that in many primitive societies 
there are types of dream-structure which depend on a socially 14 - 1 transmitted pattern of belief, and 
cease to occur when that belief 



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ceases to be entertained. Not only the choice of this or that symbol, but the nature of the dream itself, 
seems to conform to a rigid traditional pattern. It is evident that such dreams are closely related to 
myth, of which it has been well said that it is the dream-thinking of the people, as the dream is the 
myth of the individual. 

Keeping this observation in mind, let us consider what sort of dreams are described in Homer, and 
how the poet presents them. Professor H. J. Rose, in his excellent little book Primitive Culture in 
Greece , distinguishes three prescientific ways of regarding the dream, viz., (1) "to take the 
dream-vision as objective fact"; (2) "to suppose it ... something seen by the soul, or one of the souls, 
while temporarily out of the body, a happening whose scene is in the spirit world, or the like"; (3) "to 
interpret it by a more or less complicated symbolism. " [6] Professor Rose considers these to be three 
successive "stages of progress," and logically no doubt they are. But in such matters the actual 
development of our notions seldom follows the logical course. If we look at Homer, we shall see that 
the first and third of Rose's "stages" coexist in both poems, with no apparent consciousness of 
incongruity, while Rose's second "stage" is entirely missing (and continues to be missing from extant 
Greek literature down to the fifth century, when it makes a sensational first appearance in a 
well-known fragment of Pindar). [7:| 

In most of their descriptions of dreams, the Homeric poets treat what is seen as if it were 
"objective fact." [8 -* The dream usually takes the form of a visit paid to a sleeping man or woman by a 
single dream-figure (the very word oneiros in Homer nearly always means dream-figure, not 
dream-experience). This dream-figure can be a god, or a ghost, or a preexisting dream-messenger, 
or an "image" (eidolon ) created specially for the occasion but whichever it is, it exists objectively 
in space, and is independent of the dreamer. It effects an entry by the keyhole (Homeric bedrooms 
having neither window nor chimney); it plants itself at the head of the bed to 



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deliver its message; and when that is done, it withdraws by the same route. [11:| The dreamer, 
meanwhile, is almost completely passive: he sees a figure, he hears a voice, and that is practically all. 
Sometimes, it is true, he will answer in his sleep; once he stretches out his arms to embrace the 
dream-figure. [12:| But these are objective physical acts, such as men are observed to perform in their 
sleep. The dreamer does not suppose himself to be anywhere else than in his bed, and in fact he 
knows himself to be asleep, since the dream-figure is at pains to point this out to him: "You are 
asleep, son of Atreus," says the wicked dream in Iliad 2; "You are asleep, Achilles," says the ghost of 
Patroclus; "You are asleep, Penelope," says the "shadowy image" in the Odyssey . [13:| 

All this bears little resemblance to our own dream-experience, and scholars have been inclined to 
dismiss it, like so much else in Homer, as "poetic convention" or "epic machinery. " [14:| It is at any rate 
highly stylised, as the recurrent formulae show. I shall come back to this point presently. Meanwhile 
we may notice that the language used by Greeks at all periods in describing dreams of all sorts 
appears to be suggested by a type of dream in which the dreamer is the passive recipient of an 
objective vision. The Greeks never spoke as we do of having a dream, but always of seeing a dream— 

ivap i&eti', Ivi'irviov 
\htiv 




. The phrase is appropriate only to dreams of the passive type, but we find it used even when the 
dreamer is himself the central figure in the dream action. [lS] Again, the dream is said not only to 
"visit" the dreamer ( 

<tx>iTai>, iTuTKOirtlv, rfxxrt\Oii v 

, etc.) [16] but also to "stand over" him ( 

IfKTTijvat 

). The latter usage is particularly common in Herodotus, where it has been taken for a reminiscence of 
Homer's 

<rrrj 8 ’ ip' vvtp k opa^r/s 

, "it stood at his head"; 117 - 1 but its occurrence in the Epidaurian and Lindian Temple Records, and in 
countless later authors from Isocrates to the Acts of the Apostles, [ ' L3) can hardly be explained in this 
manner. It looks as if the objective, visionary dream had struck deep roots not only in literary tradition 
but in the popular imagination. And that conclusion is to some extent fortified 



- 106 - 

by the occurrence in myth and pious legend of dreams which prove their objectivity by leaving a 
material token behind them, what our spiritualists like to call an "apport"; the best-known example is 
Bellerophon’s incubation dream in Pindar, in which the apport is a golden bridled 191 

But let us return to Homer. The stylised, objective dreams I have been describing are not the only 
dreams with which the epic poets are acquainted. That the common anxiety-dream was as familiar to 
the author of the I liad as it is to us, we learn from a famous simile: "as in a dream one flees and 
another cannot pursue him— the one cannot stir to escape, nor the other to pursue him— so Achilles 
could not overtake Hector in running, nor Hector escape him." 1201 The poet does not ascribe such 
nightmares to his heroes, but he knows well what they are like, and makes brilliant use of the 
experience to express frustration. Again, in Penelope's dream of the eagle and the geese in Odyssey 
19 we have a simple wish-fulfilment dream with symbolism and what Freud calls "condensation" and 
"displacement": Penelope is crying over the murder of her beautiful geese [21] when the eagle 
suddenly speaks with a human voice and explains that he is Odysseus. This is the only dream in 
Homer which is interpreted symbolically. Should we say that we have here the work of a late poet who 
has taken an intellectual leap from the primitiveness of Rose's first stage to the sophistication of his 
third? I doubt it. On any reasonable theory of the composition of the Odyssey it is difficult to suppose 
that Book 19 is much later than Book 4, in which we meet a dream of the primitive "objective" type. 
Moreover, the practice of interpreting dreams symbolically was known to the author of Iliad 5, which is 
generally thought one of the oldest parts of the poem: we read there of an oneiropolos who failed to 
interpret his sons' dreams when they went to the Trojan War. [22] 

I suggest that the true explanation does not lie in any juxtaposition of "early" and "late" attitudes 
to dream-experience as such, but rather in a distinction between different types of dream-experience. 
For the Greeks, as for other ancient peoples, 123 - 1 



- 107 - 

the fundamental distinction was that between significant and nonsignificant dreams; this appears in 
Homer, in the passage about the gates of ivory and horn, and is maintained throughout antiquity. [24] 
But within the class of significant dreams several distinct types were recognised. In a classification 
which is transmitted by Artemidorus, Macrobius, and other late writers, but whose origin may lie much 
further back, three such types are distinguished. [25] One is the symbolic dream, which "dresses up in 
metaphors, like a sort of riddles, a meaning which cannot be understood without interpretation." A 
second is the horama or "vision," which is a straightforward preenactment of a future event, like those 
dreams described in the book of the ingenious J. W. Dunne. The third is called a chrematismos or 
"oracle;" and is to be recognised "when in sleep the dreamer's parent, or some other respected or 
impressive personage, perhaps a priest or even a god, reveals without symbolism what will or will not 
happen, or should or should not be done." 

This last type is not, I think, at all common in our own dream-experience. But there is 
considerable evidence that dreams of this sort were familiar in antiquity. They figure in other ancient 
classifications. Chalcidius, who follows a different scheme from the other systematise^, 1261 calls such 
a dream an "admonitio," "when we are directed and admonished by the counsels of angelic goodness," 
and quotes as examples Socrates' dreams in the Crito and the Phaedo , [271 Again, the old medical 
writer Herophilus (early third century B.C. ) probably had this type in mind when he distinguished 
"godsent" dreams from those which owe their origin either to the "natural" dair-voyance of the mind 
itself or to chance or to wish-fulfilment. [2S1 Ancient literature is full of these "godsent" dreams in 
which a single dream-figure presents itself, as in Homer, to the sleeper and gives him prophecy. 




advice, or warning. Thus an oneiros "stood over" Croesus and warned him of coming disasters; 
Hipparchus saw "a tall and handsome man," who gave him a verse oracle, like the "fair and handsome 
woman" who revealed to Socrates the day of his death by quoting Homer; 



- 108 - 

Alexander saw "a very grey man of reverend aspect" who likewise quoted Homer, and in Alexander's 
opinion was in fact Homer in person. [29:| 

But we are not dependent on this sort of literary evidence, whose striking uniformity may naturally 
be put down to the conservatism of Greek literary tradition. A common type of "godsent" dream, in 
Greece and elsewhere, is the dream which prescribes a dedication or other religious act; [3o:i and this 
has left concrete evidence of its actual occurrence in the form of numerous inscriptions stating that 
their author makes a dedication "in accordance with a dream" or "having seen a dream. "* 31 ^ Details 
are rarely given; but we have one inscription where a priest is told in a dream by Sarapis to build him 
a house of his own, as the deity is tired of living in lodgings; and another giving detailed rules for the 
conduct of a house of prayer which are stated to have been received in sleep from Zeus. [32:i Nearly all 
the inscriptional evidence is of Hellenistic or Roman date; but this is probably fortuitous, for Plato 
speaks in the Laws of dedications which are made on the strength of dreams or waking visions, 
"especially by women of all types, and by men who are sick or in some danger or difficulty, or else 
have had a special stroke of luck," and we are told again in the Epinomis that "many cults of many 
gods have been founded, and will continue to be founded, because of dream-encounters with 
supernatural beings, omens, oracles, and deathbed visions. " [33] Plato's testimony to the frequency of 
such occurrences is all the more convincing since he himself has little faith in their supernatural 
character. 

In the light of this evidence we must, I think, recognise that the stylisation of the "divine dream" 
or chrematismos is not purely literary; it is a "culture-pattern" dream in the sense I defined at the 
beginning of this chapter, and belongs to the religious experience of the people, though poets from 
Homer downwards have adapted it to their purposes by using it as a literary motif . Such dreams 
played an important part in the life of other ancient peoples, as they do in that of many races 



- 109 - 

to-day. Most of the dreams recorded in Assyrian, Hittite, and ancient Egyptian literature are "divine 
dreams" in which a god appears and delivers a plain message to the sleeper, sometimes predicting the 
future, sometimes demanding cult. [34:i As we should expect in monarchical societies, the privileged 
dreamers are usually kings (an idea which appears also in the Iliad ); [35] commoners had to be 
content with the ordinary symbolic dream, which they interpreted with the help of dream-books. [36] A 
type corresponding to the Greek chrematismos also appears among the dreams of contemporary 
primitives, who usually attach special importance to it. Whether the dream figure is identified as a god 
or as an ancestor naturally depends on the local culture-pattern. Sometimes he is just a voice, like the 
Lord speaking to Samuel; sometimes he is an anonymous "tall man," such as we meet in Greek 
dreams. [37:| In some societies he is commonly recognised as the dreamer's dead father ; [3fa3 and in 
other cases the psychologist may be disposed to see in him a father-substitute, discharging the 
parental functions of admonition and guidance. [39:| If that view is right, we may perhaps find a special 
significance in Macrobius' phrase, "a parent or some other respected or impressive personage." And 
we may further suppose that so long as the old solidarity of the family persisted, such maintenance of 
contact in dreams with the father-image would have a deeper emotional significance, and a more 
unquestioned authority, than it possesses in our more individualised society. 

However, the "divine" character of a Greek dream seems not to depend entirely on the ostensible 
identity of the dream-figure. The directness (enargeia ) of its message was also important. In several 
Homeric dreams the god or eidolon appears to the dreamer in the guise of a living friend, [40] and it is 
possible that in real life dreams about acquaintances were often interpreted in this manner. When 
Aelius Aristides was seeking treatment in Asclepius' temple at Pergamum, his valet had a dream about 
another patient, the consul Salvius, who in the dream talked to the valet about his employer's literary 
works. 



- 110 - 

This was good enough for Aristides; he is sure that the dream-figure was the god himself, "disguised 
as Salvius . " [411 it made, of course, some difference that this was a "sought" dream, even though the 
person to whom it came was not the seeker: any dream experienced in Asclepius' temple was 




presumed to come from the god. 

Techniques for provoking the eagerly desired "divine" dream have been, and still are, employed in 
many societies. They include isolation, prayer, fasting, self-mutilation, sleeping on the skin of a 
sacrificed animal, or in contact with some other holy object, and finally incubation (i.e., sleeping in a 
holy place), or some combination of these. The ancient world relied mainly on incubation, as Greek 
peasants still do to-day; but traces of some of the other practices are not lacking. Thus fasting was 
required at certain dream-oracles, such as "Charon's cave" in Asia Minor and the hero-shrine of 
Amphiaraus in Oropus; [421 at the latter one also slept on the skin of a sacrificed ram. [431 Withdrawal 
to a sacred cave in quest of visionary wisdom figures in the legends of Epimenides. and 
Pythagoras. [441 Even the Red Indian practice of chopping off a finger joint to procure a dream has an 
odd partial parallel, which I will mention presently. 51 There were also in later antiquity less painful 
ways of obtaining an oracle-dream: the dreambooks recommended sleeping with a branch of laurel 
under your pillow; the magical papyri are full of spells and private rituals for the purpose; and there 
were Jews at Rome who would sell you any dream you fancied for a few pence. [ - 

None of these techniques is mentioned by Homer, nor is incubation itself. 1471 But as we have 
seen, arguments from silence are in his case peculiarly dangerous. Incubation had been practised in 
Egypt since the fifteenth century B.C. at least, and I doubt if the Minoans were ignorant of it. [481 
When we first meet it in Greece, it is usually associated with cults of Earth and of the dead which have 
all the air of being pre-Hellenic. Tradition said, probably with truth, that the original Earth oracle at 
Delphi had been a dream-oracle; [491 in historical times, incubation 



- Ill - 

was practised at the shrines of heroes— whether dead men or chthonic daemons— and at certain 
chasms reputed to be entrances to the world of the dead (necyomanteia ). The Olympians did not 
patronise it (which may sufficiently explain Homer's silence); Athena in the Bellerophon story is an 
exception, 1501 but with her it may be a vestige of her pre-Olympian past. 

Whether or not incubation had once been more widely practised in Greece, we find it used in 
historical times mainly for two specialised ends— either to obtain mantic dreams from the dead, or else 
for medical purposes. The best-known example of the former is Periander's consultation of his dead 
wife Melissa on a business matter at a necyomanteion , when an "image" of the dead woman appeared 
to Periander's agent, established her identity, prescribed cult, and insisted on satisfaction of this 
demand before she would answer his question. [511 There is nothing really incredible in this story, and 
whether true or false, it seems in any case to reflect an old culture-pattern, out of which in some 
societies a kind of spiritualism has been developed. But in Greece the Homeric Hades-belief, as well as 
the scepticism of classical times, must have worked to prevent such a development; and in fact mantic 
dreams from the dead seem to have played only a very minor part in the Classical Age. [521 They may 
have acquired more importance in some Hellenistic circles, after Pythagoreans and Stoics had brought 
the dead into more convenient proximity to the living, by transferring the site of Hades to the air. At 
any rate we read in Alexander Polyhistor that "the whole air is full of souls, who are worshipped as the 
daemons and heroes, and it is these who send mankind dreams and omens"; and we find a like theory 
ascribed to Posidonius. [531 But those who held this view had no reason to seek dreams in special 
places, since the dead were everywhere; there was no future for necyomanteia in the ancient world. 

Medical incubation, on the other hand, enjoyed a brilliant revival when at the end of the fifth 
century the cult of Asclepius suddenly rose to Panhellenic importance— a position which it 



- 112 - 

retained down to the latest pagan times. About the wider implications of this I shall have something to 
say in a later chapter. [541 For the moment we are concerned only with the dreams that the god sent 
to his patients. Ever since the publication in 1883 of the Epidaurian Temple Record. [551 these have 
been much discussed; and the gradual change in our general attitude towards the nonrational factors 
in human experience has been reflected in the opinions of scholars. The earlier commentators were 
content to dismiss the Record as a deliberate priestly forgery, or else to suggest unconvincingly that 
the patients were drugged, or hypnotised, or somehow mistook waking for sleeping and a priest in 
fancy dress for the divine Healer. [56] Few, perhaps, would now be satisfied with these crude 
explanations; and in the three major contributions to the debate which have been made in the present 
generation— those of Weinreich, Herzog, and Edelstein [571 —we can observe a growing emphasis on 
the genuinely religious character of the experience. This seems to me entirely justified. But there are 
still differences of opinion about the origin of the Record. Herzog thinks it is based in part on genuine 
votive tablets dedicated by individual patients— which might, however, be elaborated and expanded in 




the process of incorporation— but also in part on a temple tradition which had attracted to itself miracle 
stories from many sources. Edelstein, on the other hand, accepts the inscriptions as in some sense a 
faithful reproduction of the patient's experience. 

Certainty in this matter is hardly attainable. But the concept of the culture-pattern dream or vision 
may perhaps bring us a little nearer to understanding the genesis of such documents as the Epidaurian 
Record. Experiences of this type reflect a pattern of belief which is accepted not only by the dreamer 
but usually by everyone in his environment; their form is determined by the belief, and in turn 
confirms it; hence they become increasingly stylised. As Tylor pointed out long ago, "it is a vicious 
circle: what the dreamer believes he therefore sees, and what he sees he therefore believes. " [58] But 
what if he never- 



- 113 - 

theless fails to see? That must often have happened at Epidaurus: as Diogenes said of the votive 
tablets to another deity, "there would have been far more of them if those who were not rescued had 
made dedications. " [59 -* But the failures did not matter, save to the individual; for the will of a god is 
inscrutable— "therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy." "I am determined to leave the 
temple forthwith," says the sick pimp in Plautus; "for I realise the decision of Asclepius— he does not 
care for me or want to save me .* 601 Many a sick man must have said that. But the true believer was 
no doubt infinitely patient: we know how patiently primitives wait for the significant vision, [61] and 
how people return again and again to Lourdes. Often in practice the sufferer had to be content with a 
revelation that was, to say the least, indirect: we have seen how somebody else's dream about a 
consul could be made to serve at a pinch. But Aristides had also experienced, as he believed, the god's 
personal presence, and described it in terms that are worth quoting. t62] "It was like seeming to touch 
him," he says, "a kind of awareness that he was there in person; one was between sleep and waking, 
one wanted to open one's eyes, and yet was anxious lest he should withdraw too soon; one listened 
and heard things, sometimes as in a dream, sometimes as in waking life; one's hair stood on end; one 
cried, and felt happy; one's heart swelled, but not with vainglory. [68] What human being could put 
that experience into words? But anyone who has been through it will share my knowledge and 
recognise the state of mind." What is described here is a condition of self-induced trance, in which the 
patient has a strong inward sense of the divine presence, and eventually hears the divine voice, only 
half externalised. It is possible that many of the god's more detailed prescriptions were received by 
patients in a state of this kind, rather than in actual dreams. 

Aristides' experience is plainly subjective; but occasionally an objective factor may have come into 
play. We read in the Epidaurian Record of a man who fell asleep in the daytime 



- 114 - 

outside the temple, when one of the god's tame snakes came and licked his sore toe; he awoke 
"cured," and said he had dreamed that a handsome young man put a dressing on his toe. This recalls 
the scene in Aristophanes' Plutus , where it is the snakes who administer the curative treatment after 
the patients have seen a vision of the god. We also read of cures performed by the temple dogs who 
come and lick the affected part while the patient is wide awake . 164:1 There is nothing incredible here, if 
we do not insist on the permanence of the "cures"; the habits of dogs and the therapeutic virtues of 
saliva are well known. Both dogs and snakes were quite real. A fourth -century Athenian inscription 
commands an offering of cakes to the holy dogs, and we have Plutarch's story of the clever 
temple-dog who detected a thief stealing the votives and was rewarded with dinners at the public 
expense for the rest of his life. [65] The temple snake figures in Herodas' mime: the visiting ladies 
remember to pop a little porridge "respectfully" into his hole. [66] 

In the morning, those who had been favoured with the god's nocturnal visitation told their 
experiences. And here we must make generous allowance for what Freud called "secondary 
elaboration," whose effect is, in Freud's words, "that the dream loses the appearance of absurdity and 
incoherence, and approaches the pattern of an intelligible experience. " [67] In this case the secondary 
elaboration will have operated, without conscious deception, to bring the dream or vision into closer 
conformity with the traditional culture-pattern. For example, in the dream of the man with the sore 
toe, the godlike beauty of the dream-figure is the sort of traditional 1685 trait which would easily be 
added at this stage. And beyond this I think we must assume in many cases a tertiary elaboration 16 " 5 
contributed by the priests, or more often perhaps by fellow-patients. Every rumour of a cure, bringing 
as it did fresh hope to the desperate, will have been seized on and magnified in that expectant 
community of suffering, which was bound together, as Aristides tells us, by a stronger sense of fellow- 




- 115 - 

ship than a school or a ship's company. [70 -* Aristophanes gets the psychology right when he describes 
the other patients crowding round Plutus to congratulate him on recovering his eyesight, and too much 
excited to go to sleep again. [71] To this sort of milieu we should probably refer the folktale elements in 
the Record, as well as the tall stories of surgical operations performed by the god on sleeping patients. 
It is significant that Aristides knows of no contemporary surgical cures, but believes that they were 
frequent "in the time of the present priest's grandfather. " [7?:1 Even at Epidaurus or Pergamum one had 
to give a story time to grow. 

A word, finally, about the medical aspect of the business. In the Record the cures are mostly 
represented as instantaneous, [73:| and possibly some of them were. It is irrelevant to ask how long the 
improvement lasted: it is enough that the patient "departed cured" (vy‘>7s AiriJW*). Such cures need not 
have been numerous: as we see in the case of Lourdes, a healing shrine can maintain its reputation on 
a very low percentage of successes, provided a few of them are sensational. As for the 
dream-prescriptions, their quality naturally varied not only with the dreamer's medical knowledge, but 
with his unconscious attitude towards his own illness. [ 743 In a few instances they are quite rational, 
though not exactly original, as when the Divine Wisdom prescribes gargling for a sore throat and 
vegetables for constipation. "Full of gratitude," says the recipient of this revelation, "I departed 
cured. " [75:| More often the god's pharmacopoeia is purely magical; he makes his patients swallow 
snake-poison or ashes from the altar, or smear their eyes with the blood of a white cock. [76] Edelstein 
has rightly pointed out that such remedies still played a biggish part in profane medicine too; [77:i but 
there remains the important difference that in the medical schools they were subject, in principle at 
least, to rational criticism, whereas in dreams, as Aristotle said, the element of judgement (rd iiriK/nw) 
is absent. [78] 

The influence of the dreamer's unconscious attitude may be seen in Aristides' dream-prescriptions, 
many of which he has 



- 116 - 

recorded. As he says himself, "They are the very opposite of what one would expect, and are indeed 
just the things which one would naturally most avoid." Their common characteristic is their 
painfulness: they range from emetics, river-bathing in midwinter, and running barefoot in the frost, to 
voluntary shipwreck and a demand for the sacrifice of one of his fingers 179 - 1 —a symbol whose 
significance Freud has explained. These dreams look like the expression of a deep-seated desire for 
self-punishment. Aristides always obeyed them (though in the matter of the finger his Unconscious so 
far relented as to let him dedicate a finger-ring as a surrogate). Nevertheless he somehow managed to 
survive the effects of his own prescriptions' as Professor Campbell Bonner has said, he must have had 
the iron constitution of the chronic invalid. fe0 -* Indeed, obedience to such dreams may well have 
procured a temporary abatement of neurotic symptoms. But plainly on a wider view there is little to be 
said for a system which placed the patient at the mercy of his own unconscious impulses, disguised as 
divine monitions. We may well accept the cool judgement of Cicero that "few patients owe their lives 
to Asclepius rather than FUppocrates"; 181 - 1 and we should not allow the modern reaction against 
rationalism to obscure the real debt that mankind owes to those early Greek physicians who laid down 
the principles of a rational therapy in the face of age-old superstitions like the one we have been 
considering. 

As I have mentioned self-induced visions in connection with the Asclepius cult, I may add a couple 
of general remarks on waking visions or hallucinations. It is likely that these were commoner in former 
times than they are to-day, since they seem to be relatively frequent among primitives; and even with 
us they are less rare than is often supposed. 1 82 * They have in general the same origin and 
psychological structure as dreams, and like dreams they tend to reflect traditional culture-patterns. 
Among the Greeks, by far the commonest type is the apparition of a god or the heating of a divine 
voice which commands or forbids the performance of certain acts. This type figures. 



- 117 - 

under the name of "spectaculum," in Chalcidius' classification of dreams and visions; his example is 
the daemonion of Socrates. [S 3] When all allowance has been made for the influence of literary 
tradition in creating a stereotyped form, we should probably conclude that experiences of this kind had 
once been fairly frequent, and still occurred occasionally in historical times. [S4j 

I believe with Professor Latte [851 that when Flesiod tells us how the Muses spoke to him on 
Helicon t>6] this is not allegory or poetic ornament, but an attempt to express a real experience in 




literary terms. Again, we may reasonably accept as historical Philippides' vision of Pan before 
Marathon, which resulted in the establishment of a cult of Pan at Athens ; 1 ^ 71 and perhaps also Pindar's 
vision of the Mother of the Gods in the form of a stone statue, which is likewise said to have 
occasioned the establishment of a cult, though the authority in this case is not contemporary. f38] 

These three experiences have an interesting point in common: they all occurred in lonely mountainous 
places, Hesiod's on Helicon, Philippides' on the savage pass of Mount Parthenion, Pindar's during a 
thunderstorm in the mountains. That is possibly not accidental. Explorers, mountaineers, and airmen 
sometimes have odd experiences even today: a well-known example is the presence that haunted 
Shackleton and his companions in the Antarctic . 1891 And one of the old Greek doctors in fact describes 
a pathological state into which a man may fall "if he is travelling on a lonely route and terror seizes 
him as a result of an apparition ." 1901 We need to remember in this connection that most of Greece 
was, and is, a country of small and scattered settlements separated by wide stretches of desolate 
mountain solitude that dwarf to insignificance the occasional farms, the lpy<* wuv. The 
psychological influence of that solitude should not be underrated. 

It remains to trace briefly the steps by which a handful of Greek intellectuals attained a more 
rational attitude to dream-experience. So far as our fragmentary knowledge goes, the first man who 
explicitly put the dream in its proper place was 



- 118 - 

Heraclitus, with his observation that in sleep each of us retreats to a world of his own. [91] Not only 
does that rule out the "objective" dream, but it seems by implication to deny validity to 
dream-experience in general, since Heraclitus' rule is "to follow what we have in common ." 1921 And it 
would appear that Xenophanes too denied its validity, since he is said to have rejected all forms of 
divination, which must include the veridical dream . 1931 But these early sceptics did not offer to 
explain, so far as we know, how or why dreams occurred, and their view was slow to win acceptance. 
Two examples will serve to show how old ways of thinking, or at any rate old ways of speaking, 
persisted in the late fifth century. The sceptical Artabanus in Herodotus points out to Xerxes that most 
dreams are suggested by our waking preoccupations, yet he still talks of them in the old "objective" 
manner as "wandering about among men." [9l] And Democritus' atomist theory of dreams as eidola 
which continually emanate from persons and objects, and affect the dreamer's consciousness by 
penetrating the pores of his body, is plainly an attempt to provide a mechanistic basis for the objective 
dream; it even preserves Homer's word for the objective dream-image . 1951 This theory makes explicit 
provision for telepathic dreams by declaring that eidola carry representations (f/i^d<mr) of the mental 
activities of the beings from whom they originate . 19 * 31 

We should expect, however, that by the end of the fifth century the traditional type of "divine 
dream," no longer nourished by a living faith in the traditional gods , 1971 would have declined in 
frequency and importance— the popular Asclepius cult being for good reasons an exception. And there 
are in fact indications that other ways of regarding the dream were becoming more fashionable about 
this time. Religious minds were now inclined to see in the significant dream evidence of the innate 
powers of the soul itself, which it could exercise when liberated by sleep from the gross importunities 
of the body. That development belongs to a context of ideas, commonly called "Orphic," which I shall 
consider in the next chap- 



- 119 - 

ter . 1 ; 51 At the same time there is evidence of a lively interest in oneirocritice , the art of interpreting 
the private symbolic dream. A slave in Aristophanes talks of hiring a practitioner of this art for a couple 
of obols; a grandson of Aristides the Just is said to have made his living by it with the help of a tuvakiov 
or table of correspondences . 1991 Out of these Twdma developed the first Greek dreambooks, the 
earliest of which may belong to the late fifth century . 11001 

The Hippocratic treatise On Regimen (jtpl fitatrqr), which Jaeger has dated to about the middle of 
the fourth century , 11011 makes an interesting attempt to rationalise oneirocritice by relating large 
classes of dreams to the physiological state of the dreamer and treating them as symptoms important 
to the physician . 11021 This author admits also precognitive "divine" dreams, and he likewise recognises 
that many dreams are undisguised wish-fulfilments . 1 - 1031 But the dreams which interest him as a 
doctor are those which express in symbolic form morbid physiological states. These he attributes to 
the medical clairvoyance exercised by the soul when in sleep it "becomes its own mistress" and is able 
to survey its bodily dwelling without distraction 11041 (here the influence of the "Orphic" view is 
evident). From this standpoint he proceeds to justify many of the traditional interpretations by a series 
of more or less fanciful analogies between the external world And the human body, macrocosm and 




microcosm. Thus earth stands for the dreamer's flesh, a river for his blood, a tree for his reproductive 
system; to dream of an earthquake is a symptom of physiological change, while dreams about the 
dead refer to the food one has eaten, "for from the dead come nourishment and growth and 
seed." [105] He thus anticipates Freud's principle that the dream is always egocentric, 1106 - though his 
application of it is too narrowly physiological. He claims no originality for his interpretations, some of 
which are known to be older ; 1107 - 1 but he says that earlier interpreters lacked a rational basis for their 
views, and prescribed no treatment except prayer, which in his opinion is not enough. [108] 



- 120 - 

Plato in the Timaeus offers a curious explanation of mantic dreams: they originate from the insight of 
the rational soul, but are perceived by the irrational soul as images reflected on the smooth surface of 
the liver; hence their obscure symbolic character, which makes interpretation necessary. [109] He thus 
allows dream-experience an indirect relationship to reality, though it does not appear that he rated it 
very high. A much more important contribution was made by Aristotle in his two short essays On 
Dreams and On Divination in Sleep . His approach to the problem is coolly rational without being 
superficial, and he shows at times a brilliant insight, as in his recognition of a common origin for 
dreams, the hallucinations of the sick, and the illusions of the sane (e.g., when we mistake a stranger 
for the person we want to see). [110] He denies that any dreams are godsent ( 

9t6wtH1TTO. 

): if the gods wished to communicate knowledge to men, they would do so in the daytime, and they 
would choose the recipients more carefully . [111 - 1 Yet dreams, though not divine, may be called 
daemonic, "for Nature is daemonic"— a remark which, as Freud said, contains deep meaning if it be 
correctly interpreted. [ 112:1 On the subject of veridical dreams Aristotle in these essays is, like Freud, 
cautiously noncommittal. He no longer talks of the soul's innate powers of divination, as he had done 
in his romantic youth; [ 113:1 and he rejects Democritus' theory of atomic eidola . [114 -* Two kinds of 
dreams he accepts as intelligibly precognitive: dreams conveying foreknowledge of the dreamer's state 
of health, which are reasonably explained by the penetration to consciousness of symptoms ignored in 
waking hours' and those which bring about their own fulfilment by suggesting a course of action to the 
dreamer. [115:i Where dreams outside these classes prove to be veridical, he thinks it is probably 
coincidence ( 

(TVtHTTUUCL 

); alternatively, he suggests a theory of wave-borne stimuli, on the analogy of disturbances 
propagated in water or air. [116] His whole approach to the problem is scientific, not religious; and one 
may in fact doubt whether in this matter modern science has advanced very far beyond him. 



- 121 - 

Certainly later antiquity did not. The religious view of dreams was revived by the Stoics, and 
eventually accepted even by Peripatetics like Cicero's friend Cratippus. [117:i In the considered opinion 
of Cicero, the philosophers by this "patronage of dreams" had done much to keep alive a superstition 
whose only effect was to increase the burden of men's fears and anxieties. " [118J But his protest went 
unheeded: the dreambooks continued to multiply; the Emperor Marcus Aurelius thanked the gods for 
medical advice vouchsafed to him in sleep; Plutarch abstained from eating eggs because of certain 
dreams; Dio Cassius was inspired by a dream to write history; and even so enlightened a surgeon as 
Galen was prepared to perform an operation at the bidding of a dream. [ 119:1 Whether from an intuitive 
apprehension that dreams are after all related to man's inmost life, or for the simpler reasons I 
suggested at the beginning of this chapter, antiquity to the end refused to content itself with the Gate 
of Ivory, but insisted that there was also, sometimes and somehow, a Gate of Horn. 



- 135 



V 

The Greek Shamans and the Origin of Puritanism. 



That man should be a thing for immortal souls to sieve through! 
HERMAN MELVILLE 




IN THE preceding chapter we saw that, side by side with the old belief in objective divine messengers 
who communicate with man in dreams and visions, there appears in certain writers of the Classical 
Age a new belief which connects these experiences with an occult power innate in man himself. "Each 
man's body," says Pindar, "follows the call of over-mastering death; yet still there is left alive an image 
of life (atira* fliuW), for this alone is from the gods. It sleeps while the limbs are active; but while the 
man sleeps it often shows in dreams a decision of joy or adversity to come." [1] Xenophon puts this 
doctrine into plain prose, and provides the logical links which poetry has the right to omit. "It is in 
sleep," says Xenophon, "that the soul (psyche ) best shows its divine nature; it is in sleep that it 
enjoys a certain insight into the future; and this is, apparently, because it is freest in sleep." Then he 
goes on to argue that in death we may expect the psyche to be even freer; for sleep is the nearest 
approach to death in living experience. [2:| Similar statements appear in Plato, and in a fragment of an 
early work by Aristotle. [3 -* 

Opinions of this kind have long been recognised as elements in a new culture-pattern, expressions 
of a new outlook on man's nature and destiny which is foreign to the older Greek writers. 



- 136 - 

Discussion of the origin and history of this pattern, and its influence on ancient culture, could easily 
occupy an entire', course of lectures or fill a volume by itself alone. All that I can do here is to consider 
briefly some aspects of it which crucially affected the Greek interpretation of nonrational factors in 
human experience. But in attempting even this, I shall have to traverse ground which has been 
churned to deep and slippery mud by the heavy feet of contending scholars; ground, also, where those 
in a hurry are liable to trip over the partially decayed remains of dead theories that have not yet-been 
decently interred. We shall be wise, then, to move slowly, and to pick our steps rather carefully among 
the litter. 

Let us begin by asking exactly what it was that was new in the new pattern of beliefs. Certainly 
not the idea of survival. In Greece, as in most parts of the world, that idea was very old indeed. If 
we may judge by the furniture of their tombs, the inhabitants of the Aegean region had felt since 
Neolithic times that man's need for food, drink, and clothing, and his desire for service and 
entertainment, did not cease with death. [5:| I say advisedly "felt," rather than "believed"; for such acts 
as feeding 'the dead look like a direct response to emotional drives, not necessarily mediated by any 
theory. Man, I take it, feeds his dead for the same sort of reason as a little girl feeds her doll; and like 
the little girl, he abstains from killing his phantasy by applying reality-standards. When the archaic 
Greek poured liquids down a feeding-tube into the livid jaws of a mouldering corpse, all we can say is 
that he abstained, for good reasons, from knowing what he was doing; or, to put it more abstractly, 
that he ignored the distinction between corpse and ghost— he treated them as "consubstantial." [6] 

To have formulated that distinction with precision and clarity, to have disentangled the ghost from 
the corpse, is, of course, the achievement of the Homeric poets. There are passages in both poems 
which suggest that they were proud of the achievement, and fully conscious of its novelty and 
importance. [7:| 



- 137 

They had indeed a right to be proud; for there is no domain where clear thinking encounters stronger 
unconscious resistance than when we try to think about death. But we should not assume that once 
the distinction had been formulated it was universally or even generally accepted. As the 
archaeological evidence shows, the tendance of the dead, with its implication of identity between 
corpse and ghost, went quietly on, at any rate in Mainland Greece; it persisted through (some would 
say despite) the temporary vogue of cremation, and in Attica became so wastefully extravagant 
that legislation to control it had to be introduced by Solon, and again by Demetrius of Phaleron . 19 - 1 
There was no question, then, of "establishing" the idea of survival; that was implicit in age-old 
custom for the thing in the tomb which is both ghost and corpse, and explicit in Homer for the shadow 
in Hades which is ghost alone. Nor, secondly, was the idea of rewards and punishments after death a 
new one. The post-mortem punishment of certain offences against the gods is in my opinion referred 
to in the Iliad , [10] and is undoubtedly described in the Odyssey ; while Eleusis was already promising 
its initiates favoured treatment in the afterlife as far back as we can trace its teaching, i.e., probably in 
the seventh century. [11] No one, I suppose, now believes that the "great sinners" in the Odyssey are 
an "Orphic interpolation, " [12:| or that the Eleusinian promises were the result of an "Orphic reform." In 
Aeschylus, again, the post-mortem punishment of certain offenders is so intimately tied up with the 




traditional "unwritten laws" and the traditional functions of Erinys and Alastor that I feel great 
hesitation about pulling the structure to pieces to label one element in it "Orphic . 13:1 These are 
special cases, but the idea was there; it looks as if all that the new movement did was to generalise it. 
And in the new formulation we may sometimes recognise echoes of things that are very old. When 
Pindar, for example, consoles a bereaved client with a description of the happy afterlife, he assures 
him that there will be horses and draught-boards in Heaven. That is no new promise: there were 



- 138 - 

horses on Patroclus' funeral pyre, and draught-boards in the tombs of Mycenaean kings. The furniture 
of Heaven has altered little with the centuries; it remains an idealised replica of the only world we 
know. 

Nor, finally, did the contribution of the new movement consist in equating the psyche or "soul" 
with the personality of the living man. That had already been done, apparently first in Ionia. Homer, 
indeed, ascribes to the psyche no function in the living man, except to leave him; its "esse" appears to 
be "super-esse" and nothing more. But Anacreon can say to his beloved, "You are the master of my 
psyche Semonides can talk of "giving his psyche a good time"; a sixth-century epitaph from Eretria 
can complain that the sailor's calling "gives few satisfactions to the psyche Here the psyche is 

the living self, and, more specifically, the appetitive self; it has taken over the functions of Homeric 
thumos , not those of Homeric noos . Between psyche in this sense and soma (body) there is no 
fundamental antagonism; psyche is just the mental correlate of soma . In Attic Greek, both terms can 
mean "life": the Athenians said indifferently &ywl[f<rihu rtpl r^t ifawtt or rtpl roG tnbparot, And in suitable 
contexts each can mean "person" : [16] thus Sophocles can make Oedipus refer to himself in one 
passage as "my psyche ," in another as "my soma "; in both places he could have said "I ." 1171 Even 
the Homeric distinction between corpse and ghost is blurred: not only does an early Attic inscription 
talk of the psyche dying, but Pindar, more surprisingly, can speak of Hades with his wand conducting 
to "the hollow city" the somata of those who die— the corpse and the ghost have reverted here to their 
old consubstantiality . 118 - 1 I think we must admit that the psychological vocabulary of the ordinary man 
was in the fifth century in a state of great confusion, as indeed it usually is. 

But from this confusion one fact emerges which is of importance for our enquiry. It was 
demonstrated by Burnet in his famous lecture on "The Soeratic Doctrine of the Soul," [19] and for that 
reason need not detain us long. In fifth-century Attic 



- 139 - 

writers, as in their Ionian predecessors, the "self" which is denoted by the word psyche is normally the 
emotional rather than the rational self. The psyche is spoken of as the seat of courage, of passion, of 
pity, of anxiety, of animal appetite, but before Plato seldom if ever as the seat of reason; its range is 
broadly that of the Homeric thumos . When Sophocles speaks of testing 

« *oI Qpinitia. tal yv&tniv [20] ^ j s arran gj n g the elements of character on a scale that runs 
from the emotional (psyche ) to the intellectual (gnome ) through a middle term, phronema , which by 
usage involves both. Burnet's further contention that the psyche "remains something mysterious and 
uncanny, quite apart from our normal consciousness," is, as a generalisation, much more open to 
dispute. We may notice, however, that the psyche appears on occasion as the organ of conscience, 
and is credited with a kind of nonrational intuition . [21 - 1 A child can apprehend something in its psyche 
without knowing it intellectually. [22] Helenus has a "divine psyche " not because he is cleverer or more 
virtuous than other men, but because he is a seer. [23:i The psyche is imagined as dwelling somewhere 
in the depths of the organism, [24 -* and out of these depths it can speak to its owner with a voice of its 
own. [25] In most of these respects it is again a successor to the Homeric thumos . 

Whether it be true or not that on the lips of an ordinary fifth-century Athenian the word psyche 
had or might have a faint flavour of the uncanny, what it did not have was any flavour of puritanism or 
any suggestion of metaphysical status. [26] The "soul" was no reluctant prisoner of the body; it was the 
life or spirit of the body, [27] and perfectly at home there. It was here that the new religious pattern 
made its fateful contribution: by crediting man with an occult self of divine origin, and thus setting soul 
and body at odds, it introduced into European culture a new interpretation of human existence, the 
interpretation we call puritanical. Where did this notion come from ? Ever since Rohde called it "a drop 
of alien blood in the veins of the Greeks, " [28] scholars have been scanning the horizon for the source 
of the alien drop. Most of them have 



- 140 - 




looked eastward, to Asia Minor or beyond. 1 - 291 Personally, I should be inclined to begin my search in a 
different quarter. 

The passages from Pindar and Xenophon with which we started suggest that one source of the 
puritan antithesis might be the observation that "psychic" and bodily activity vary inversely: the 
psyche is most active when the body is asleep or, as Aristotle added, when it lies at the point of death. 
This is what I mean by calling it an "occult" self. Now a belief of this kind is an essential element of the 
shamanistic culture which still exists in Siberia, and has left traces of its past existence over a very 
wide area, extending in a huge are from Scandinavia across the Eurasian land-mass as far as 
Indonesia; 1301 the vast extent of its diffusion is evidence of its high antiquity. A shaman may be 
described as a psychically unstable person who has received a call to the religious life. As a result of 
his call he undergoes a period of rigorous training, which commonly involves solitude and fasting, and 
may involve a psychological change of sex. From this religious "retreat" he emerges with the power, 
real or assumed, 1 - 311 of passing at will into a state of mental dissociation. In that condition he is not 
thought, like the Pythia or like a modern medium, to be possessed by an alien spirit; but his own soul 
is thought to leave its body and travel to distant parts, most often to the spirit world. A shaman may 
in fact be seen simultaneously in different places; he has the power of bilocation. From these 
experiences, narrated by him in extempore song, he derives the skill in divination, religious poetry, 
and magical medicine which makes him socially important. Fie becomes the repository of a 
supernormal wisdom. 

Now in Scythia, and probably also in Thrace, the Greeks had come into contact with peoples who, 
as the Swiss scholar Meuli has shown, were influenced by this shamanistic culture. It will suffice to 
refer on this point to his important article in Flermes , 1935. Meuli has there further suggested that the 
fruits of this contact are to be seen in the appearance, late in the Archaic Age, of a series of tarpottirrut 
, seers, magical healers, and religious teachers, some of whom are linked in Greek tradi- 



- 141 - 

tion with the North, and all of Whom exhibit shamanistic traits. [321 Out of the North came Abaris, 
riding, it was said, upon [331 an arrow, as souls, it appears, still do in Siberia. [341 So advanced was he 
in the art of fasting that he had learned to dispense altogether with human food. [35] Fie banished 
pestilences, predicted earthquakes, composed religious poems, and taught the worship of his northern 
god, whom the Greeks called the Flyperborean Apollo. [36] Into the North, at the bidding of the same 
Apollo, went Aristeas, a Greek from the Sea of Marmora, and returned to tell his strange experiences 
in a poem that may have been modelled on the psychic excursions of northern shamans. Whether 
Aristeas' journey was made in the flesh or in the spirit is not altogether clear; but in any case, as 
Alfoldi has shown, his one-eyed Arimaspians and his treasure-guarding griffons are genuine creatures 
of Central Asiatic folklore. [371 Tradition further credited him with the shamanistic powers of trance and 
bilocation. FHis soul, in the form of a bird, 131 ' 1 could leave his body at will; he died, or fell entranced, at 
home, yet was seen at Cyzicus; many years later he appeared again at Metapontum in the Far West. 
The same gift was possessed by another Asiatic Greek, Flermotimus of Clazomenae, whose soul 
travelled far and wide, observing events in distant places, while his body lay inanimate at home. Such 
tales of disappearing and reappearing shamans were sufficiently familiar at Athens for Sophocles to 
refer to them in the Electra without any need to mention names. 1391 

Of these men virtually nothing is left but a legend, though the pattern of the legend may be 
significant. The pattern is repeated in some of the tales about Epimenides, the Cretan seer, who 
purified Athens of the dangerous uncleanness caused by a violation of the right of sanctuary. But since 
Diels provided him with a fixed date [401 and five pages of fragments, Epimenides has begun to look 
quite like a person— even though all his fragments were composed, in Diels's opinion, by other people, 
including the one quoted in the Epistle to Titus. Epimenides came from Cnossos, and to that fact he 
may perhaps have 



- 142 - 

owed something of his great prestige: a man who had grown up in the shadow of the Palace of Minos 
might well lay Claim to a more ancient wisdom, especially after he had slept for fifty-seven years in 
the cave of the Cretan mystery-god. [411 Nevertheless, tradition assimilated him to the type of a 
northern shaman. Fie too was an expert in psychic excursion; and, like Abaris, he was a great faster, 
living exclusively on a vegetable preparation whose secret he had learned from the Nymphs and which 
he was accustomed to store, for reasons best known to himself, in an ox's hoof. [421 Another singular 
feature of his legend is that after his death his body was observed to be covered with 
tattoo-marks. [431 Singular, because the Greeks used the tattoo-needle only to brand slaves. It may 




have been a sign of his dedication as serous dei ; but in any case to an archaic Greek it would 
probably suggest Thrace, where all the best people were tattooed, and in particular the shamans. [44 -* 
As for the Long Sleep, that is of course a widespread folktale; [45 -* Rip Van Winkle was no shaman. But 
its place at the beginning of the Epimenides-saga suggests that the Greeks had heard of the long 
"retreat" which is the shaman's novitiate and is sometimes largely, spent in a condition of sleep or 
trance. [46] 

From all this it seems reasonable to conclude that the opening of the Black Sea to Greek trade and 
colonisation in the seventh century, which introduced the Greeks for the first time 147 - 1 to a culture 
based on shamanism, at any rate enriched with some remarkable new traits the traditional Greek 
picture of the Man of God, the &*1P. These new elements were, I think, acceptable to the Greek 
mind because they answered to the needs of the time, as Dionysiac religion had done earlier. Religious 
experience of the shamanistic type is individual, not collective; but it appealed to the growing 
individualism of an age for which the collective ecstasies of Dionysus were no longer wholly sufficient. 
And it is a reasonable further guess that these new traits had some influence on the new and 
revolutionary conception of the relation between body and soul which appears at the end of the 
Archaic Age. [48] 



- 143 - 

One remembers that in Clearchus' dialogue On Sleep what convinced Aristotle "that the soul is 
detachable from the body" was precisely an experiment in psychic excursion. [49:| That, however, was a 
work of fiction, and relatively late at that. Whether any of the Men of God whom I have so far 
mentioned drew such general theoretical conclusions from his personal experiences, we are entitled to 
doubt. Aristotle, indeed, thought there were grounds for believing that Hermotimus anticipated his 
more famous townsman Anaxagoras in his doctrine of nous ; but this may mean only, as Diels 
suggested, that for evidence of the separability of nous Anaxagoras appealed to the experiences of the 
old local shaman. [50:| Epimenides, again, is said to have claimed that he was a reincarnation of Aeacus 
and had lived many times on earth 181 - 1 (which would explain Aristotle's statement that his divination 
was concerned not with the future but with the unknown past). 152 - 1 Diels thought that this tradition 
must have an Orphic source; he attributed it to an Orphic poem forged in Epimenides' name by 
Onomacritus or one of his friends. [53] For a reason which will appear presently, I am less certain 
about this than Diels was; but whatever view one takes, it would be unwise to build very much on it. 

There is, however, another and a greater Greek shaman who undoubtedly drew theoretical 
consequences and undoubtedly believed in rebirth. I mean Pythagoras. We need not suppose him to 
have claimed precisely that series of previous incarnations which was attributed to him by Fleraclides 
Ponticus; 154 - 1 but there is no good reason to question the statements of our authorities that 
Pythagoras is the man to whom Empedocles attributed a wisdom gathered in ten or twenty human 
lives, and that he is also the man whom Xenophanes mocked for believing that a human soul could 
dwell in a dog. [55] How did Pythagoras come by these opinions? The usual answer is "from Orphic 
teaching," which, if it is true, only pushes the question one step further back. But it is, I think, possible 
that he was not directly dependent on any "Orphic" source in this cardinal matter; that both he and 
Epimenides before him had heard of 



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the northern belief that the "soul" or "guardian spirit" of a former shaman may enter into a living 
shaman to reinforce his power and knowledge. [56] This need not involve any general doctrine of 
transmigration, and it is noteworthy that Epimenides is credited with no such general doctrine; he 
merely claimed that he himself had lived before, and was identical With Aeacus, an ancient Man of 
God. 7] Similarly Pythagoras is represented as claiming identity with the former shaman 
Hermotimus; 158 - 1 but it would appear that Pythagoras extended the doctrine a good deal beyond these 
original narrow limits. Perhaps that was his personal contribution; in view of his enormous prestige we 
must surely credit him with some power of creative thinking. 

We know at any rate that Pythagoras founded a kind of religious order, a community of men and 
women [59] whose rule of life was determined by the expectation of lives to come. Possibly there were 
precedents of a sort even for that: we may remember the Thracian Zalmoxis in Herodotus, who 
assembled "the best of the citizens" and announced to them, not that the human soul is immortal, but 
that they and their descendants were going to live for ever— they were apparently chosen persons, a 
sort of spiritual elite . [60:| That there was some analogy between Zalmoxis and Pythagoras must have 
struck the Greek settlers in Thrace, from whom Herodotus heard the story, for they made Zalmoxis 
into Pythagoras' slave. That was absurd, as Herodotus saw: the real Zalmoxis was a daemon, possibly 




a heroised shaman of the distant past. 161 - 1 But the analogy was not so absurd: did not Pythagoras 
promise his followers that they should live again, and become at last daemons or even gods?^ 62] Later 
tradition brought Pythagoras into contact with the other northerner, Abaris; credited him with the 
usual shamanistic powers of prophecy, bilocation, and magical healing; and told of his initiation in 
Pieria, his visit to the spirit world, and his mysterious identity with the "Hyperborean Apollo. 

Some of that may be late, but the beginnings of the Pythagoras legend go back to the fifth century at 
least, [64] and I 



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am willing to believe that Pythagoras himself did a good deal to set it going. 

I am the more willing to believe it because we can see this actually happening in the case of 
Empedocles, whose legend is largely composed of embroideries upon claims which he himself makes in 
his poems. Little more than a century after his death, stories were already in circulation which told 
how he had stayed the winds by his magic, how he had restored to life a woman who no longer 
breathed, and how he then vanished bodily from this mortal world and became a god. [65:i And by good 
fortune we know the ultimate source of these stories: we have Empedocles' own words, in which he 
claims that he can teach his pupils to stay the winds and revive the dead, and that he is himself, or is 
thought to be, a god made flesh— 1 * 7 “ 4 ’ bulvOt&t ippporot f o Uin 0*17x61 1 66 ! Empedocles is thus in a 
sense the creator of his own legend; and if we can trust his description of the crowds who came to him 
in search of occult knowledge or magical healing, its beginnings date back to his lifetime. t67] In face of 
that, it seems to me rash to assume that the legends of Pythagoras and Epimenides have no roots at 
all in genuine tradition, but were deliberately invented from first to last by the romancers of a later 
age. 

Be that as it may, the fragments of Empedocles are the one first-hand source from which we can 
still form some notion of what a Greek shaman was really like; he is the last belated example of a 
species which with his death became extinct in the Greek world, though it still flourishes elsewhere. 
Scholars have been astonished that a man capable of the acute observation and constructive thought 
which appear in Empedocles' poem On Nature should also have written the Purifications and 
represented himself as a divine magician. Some of them have tried to explain it by saying that the two 
poems must belong to different periods of Empedocles' life: either he started as a magician, lost his 
nerve, and took to natural science; or else, as others maintain, he started as a scientist, was 
converted later to "Orphism" or Pythagoreanism, and in the lonely exile of his 



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declining years comforted himself with delusions of grandeur— he was a god, and would return one day 
not to Acragas but to Heaven. [68:| The trouble about these explanations is that they do not really 
work. The fragment in which Empedocles claims the power to stay the winds, cause or prevent rain, 
and revive the dead, appears to belong, not to the Purifications , but to the poem On Nature . So does 
fragment 23, in which the poet bids his pupil listen to "the word of a god" (I find it hard to believe that 
this refers merely to the conventional inspiration of the Muse). 169 - 1 So does fragment 15, which seems 
to contrast "what people call life" with a more real existence before birth and after death. [70:| All this is 
discouraging for any attempt to explain Empedocles' inconsistencies on "genetic" lines. Nor is it easy 
to accept Jaeger's recent description of him as "a new synthesising type of philosophical 
personality, " [711 since any attempt to synthesise his religious and his scientific opinions is precisely 
what we miss in him. If I am right, Empedocles' represents not a new but a very old type of 
personality, the shaman who combines the still undifferentiated functions of magician and naturalist, 
poet and philosopher, preacher, healer, and public counsellor. [72] After him these functions fell apart; 
philosophers henceforth were to be neither poets nor magicians; indeed, such a man was already an 
anachronism in the fifth century. But men like Epimenides and Pythagoras [73] may well have 
exercised all the functions I have named. It was not a question of "synthesising" these wide domains 
of practical and theoretical knowledge; in their quality as Men of God they practised with confidence in 
all of them; the "synthesis" was personal, not logical. 

What I have thus far suggested is a tentative line of spiritual descent which starts in Scythia, 
crosses the Hellespont into Asiatic Greece, is perhaps combined with some remnants of Minoan 
tradition surviving in Crete, emigrates to the Far West with Pythagoras, and has its last outstanding 
representative in the Sicilian Empedocles. These men diffused the belief in a detachable soul or self, 
which by suitable tech- 




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niques can be withdrawn from the body even during life, a self which is older than the body and will 
outlast it. But at this point an inevitable question presents itself: how is this development related to 
the mythological person named Orpheus and to the theology known as Orphic? And I must attempt a 
short answer. 

About Orpheus himself I can make a guess, at the risk of being called a panshamanist. Orpheus' 
home is in Thrace, and in Thrace he is the worshipper or companion of agod whom the Greeks 
identified with Apollo .* 741 He combines the professions of poet, magician, religious teacher, and 
oracle-giver. Like certain legendary shamans in Siberia ,* 751 he can by his music summon birds and 
beasts to listen to him. Like shamans everywhere, he pays a visit to the underworld, and his motive is 
one very common among shamans * 761 —to recover a stolen soul. Finally, his magical self lives on as a 
singing head, which continues to give oracles for many years after his death .* 771 That too suggests 
the North: such mantic heads appear in Norse mythology and in Irish tradition .* 781 I conclude that 
Orpheus is a Thracian figure of much the same kind as Zalmoxis— a mythical shaman Or prototype of 
shamans. 

Orpheus, however, is one thing, Orphism quite another. But I must confess that I know very little 
about early Orphism, and the more I read about it the more my knowledge diminishes. Twenty years 
ago, I could have said quite a lot about it (we all could at that time). Since then, I have lost a great 
deal of knowledge; for this loss I am indebted to Wilamowitz, Festugieare, Thomas, and not least to a 
distinguished member of the University of California, Professor Linforth .* 791 Let me illustrate my 
present ignorance by listing a few of the things I once knew. 

There was a time when I knew: 

That there was an Orphic sect or community in the Classical Age ;* 301 

That an Orphic "Theogony" was read by Empedocles *'* 11 and Euripides ,* 821 and parodied by 
Aristophanes in the Birds ;* 8il 

That the poem of which fragments are inscribed on the gold 



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plates found atThurii and elsewhere is an Orphic apocalypse ;* 841 

That Plato took the details of his myths about the Other World from such an Orphic 
apocalypse ;* 851 

That the Hippolytus of Euripides is an Orphic figure ;* 861 

That <rufia-<nina ("Body equals tomb") is an Orphic doctrine .* 871 

When I say that I no longer possess these items of information, I do not intend to assert that ail of 
them are false. The last two I feel pretty sure are false: we really must not turn a bloodstained 
huntsman into an Orphic figure, or call "Orphic" a doctrine that Plato plainly denies to be Orphic. But 
some of the others may very well happen to be true. All I mean is that I cannot at present convince 
myself of their truth; and that until I can, the edifice reared by an ingenious scholarship upon these 
foundations remains for me a house of dreams— I am tempted to call it the unconscious projection 
upon the screen of antiquity of certain unsatisfied religious longings characteristic of the late 
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries .* 881 

If, then, I decide provisionally to dispense with these cornerstones, and to follow instead the 
cautious rules of architecture enunciated by Festugiere and Linforth ,* 891 how much of the fabric still 
stands? Not, I fear, very much, unless I am prepared to patch it with material derived from the 
fantastic theogonies that Proclus and Damascius read at a time when Pythagoras had been in his grave 
for nearly a millennium. And that I dare not do, save in the very rare 'instances where both the 
antiquity of the material and its Orphic origin are independently guaranteed .* 901 I shall quote later 
what I believe to be such an instance, though the question is a controversial one. But let me first 
muster such uncontroverted knowledge about Orphism as I still possess, and see what it includes that 
is germane to the subject of this chapter. I still know that in the fifth and fourth centuries there were 
in circulation a number of pseudonymous religious poems, which were conventionally ascribed to the 
mythical Orpheus, but which the critically minded knew or guessed to be of much more recent origin. 



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Their authorship may have been very diverse, and I have no reason to suppose that they preached 
any uniform or systematic doctrine; Plato's word for them, " a hubbub of books ,* 921 

rather suggests the contrary. Of their contents I know very little. But I do know on good authority that 




three things were taught in some at least of them, namely, that the body is the prisonhouse of the 
soul; that vegetarianism is an essential rule of life; and that the unpleasant consequences of sin, both 
in this world and in the next, can be washed away by ritual means. ^ 93] That they taught the most 
famous of so-called "Orphic" doctrines, the transmigration of souls, is not, as it happens, directly 
attested by anyone in the Classical Age; but it may, I think, be inferred without undue rashness from 
the conception of the body as a prison where the soul is punished for its past sins . 1941 Even with this 
addition, the sum total is not extensive. And it gives me no sure basis for distinguishing an "Orphic" 
from a "Pythagorean" psychology; for Pythagoreans too are said to have avoided meat, practised 
catharsis, and viewed the body as a prison, [95] and Pythagoras himself, as we have seen, had 
experienced transmigration. There cannot in fact have, been any very clear-cut distinction between the 
Orphic teaching, at any rate in some of its forms, and Pythagoreanism; for Ion of Chios, a good 
fifth-century authority, thought that Pythagoras had composed poems under the name of Orpheus, 
and Epigenes, who was a specialist on the subject, attributed four "Orphic" poems to individual 
Pythagoreans. [96] Whether there were any Orphic poems in existence before the time of Pythagoras, 
and if there were, whether they taught transmigration, remains entirely uncertain. I shall accordingly 
use the term "Puritan psychology" to cover both early Orphic and early Pythagorean beliefs about the 
soul. 

We have seen— or I hope we have seen— how contact with shamanistic beliefs and practices might 
suggest to a thoughtful people like the Greeks the rudiments of such a psychology: how the notion of 
psychic excursion in sleep or trance might sharpen the soul-body antithesis; how the shamanistic 
"retreat" might 



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provide the model for a deliberate askesis , a conscious training of the psychic powers through 
abstinence and spiritual exercises; how tales of vanishing and reappearing shamans might encourage 
the belief in an indestructible magical or daemonic self; and how the migration of the magical power or 
spirit from dead shamans to living ones might be generalised as a doctrine of reincarnation. [9 ' ] But I 
must emphasise that these are only "mights," logical or psychological possibilities. If they were 
actualised by certain Greeks, that must be because they were felt, in Rohde's phrase, "to meet Greek 
spiritual needs. "I - 98 - 1 And if we consider the situation at the end of the Archaic Age, as I described it in 
my second chapter, I think we shall see that they did meet certain needs, logical, moral, and 
psychological. 

Professor Nilsson' thinks that the doctrine of rebirth is a product of "pure logic," and that the 
Greeks invented it because they were "born logicians. [99 -* And we may agree with him that once 
people accepted the notion that man has a "soul" distinct from his body, it was natural to ask where 
this "soul" came from, and natural to answer that it came from the great reservoir of souls in Hades. 
There are in fact indications of such a line of argument in Heraclitus as well as in the Phaeda . [100 - 1 I 
doubt, however, if religious briefs are often adopted, even by philosophers, on grounds of pure 
logic— logic is at best ancilla fidei . And this particular belief has found favour with many peoples who 
are by no means born logicians . [1011 I am inclined to attach more importance to considerations of a 
different type. 

Morally, reincarnation offered a more satisfactory solution to the Late Archaic problem of divine 
justice than did inherited guilt or post-mortem punishment in another world. With the growing 
emancipation of the individual from the old family solidarity, his increasing rights as a judicial 
"person," the notion of a vicarious payment for another's fault began to be unacceptable. When once 
human law had recognised that a man is responsible for his own acts only, divine law must sooner or 
later do likewise. As for post-mortem punishment, 



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that explained well enough why the gods appeared to tolerate the worldly success of the wicked, and 
the new teaching in fact exploited it to the full, using the device of the "underworld journey" to make 
the horrors of Hell real and vivid to the imagination .^ 102 - 1 But the post-mortem punishment did not 
explain why the gods tolerated so much human suffering, and in particular the unmerited suffering of 
the innocent. Reincarnation did. On that view, no human soul was innocent :" 1103 - 1 all were paying, in 
various degrees, for crimes of varying atrocity committed in former lives. And all that squalid mass of 
suffering, whether in this world or in another, was but a part of the soul's long education— an 
education that would culminate at last in its release from the cycle of birth and return to its divine 
origin. Only in this way, and on this cosmic time-scale, could justice in its full archaic sense— the 
justice of the law that "the Doer shall suffer"— be completely realised for every soul. 




Plato knows this moral interpretation of rebirth as "a myth or doctrine or what you will" which was 
taught by "old-time priests . 104:1 It is certainly an old interpretation, but not, I think, the oldest. To 
the Siberian shaman, the experience of past lives is. not a source of guilt, but an enhancement of 
power, and that I take to be the original Greek point of view; it was such an enhancement of power 
that Empedocles perceived in Pythagoras, and that Epimenides, it would seem, had claimed earlier. It 
was only when rebirth was attributed to all human souls that it became a burden instead of a privilege, 
and was used to explain the inequalities of our earthly portion and to show that, in the words of a 
Pythagorean poet, man's sufferings are self-incurred (oWoiptra). I 105 ! 

Beneath this demand for a solution to what we call "the problem of evil" we may believe that there 
lay a deeper psychological need— the need to rationalise those unexplained feelings of guilt which, as 
we saw earlier, were prevalent in the Archaic Age. [106] Men were, I suppose, dimly conscious— and 
on Freud's view, rightly conscious— that such feelings had their roots in a submerged 'and 
long-forgotten past experience. What more nat- 



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ural than to interpret that intuition (which is in fact, according to Freud, a faint awareness of infantile 
traumata) as a faint awareness of sin committed in a former life? Flere we have perhaps stumbled on 
the psychological source of the peculiar importance attached in the Pythagorean school to 
"recollection"— not in the Platonic sense of recalling a world of disembodied Forms once seen by the 
disembodied soul, but in the more primitive sense of training the memory to recall the deeds and 
sufferings of a previous life on earth. [107] 

That, however, is speculation. What is certain is that these beliefs promoted in their adherents a 
horror of the body and a revulsion against the life of the senses which were quite new in Greece. Any 
guilt-culture will, I suppose, provide a soil favourable to the growth of puritanism, since it creates an 
unconscious need for self-punishment which puritanism gratifies. But in Greece it was, apparently, the 
impact of shamanistic beliefs which set the process going. By Greek minds these beliefs were 
reinterpreted in a moral sense; and when that was done, the world of bodily experience inevitably 
appeared as a place of darkness and penance, the flesh became an "alien tunic." "Pleasure," says the 
old Pythagorean catechism, "is in all circumstances bad; for we came here to be punished and we 
ought to be punished." [108] in 'that form of the doctrine which Plato attributes to the Orphic school, 
the body was pictured as the soul's prison, in which the gods keep it locked up until it has purged its 
guilt. In the other form mentioned by Plato, puritanism found an even more violent expression: the 
body was conceived as a tomb wherein the psyche lies dead, awaiting its resurrection into true life, 
which is life without the body. This form seems to be traceable as far back as Fleraclitus, who perhaps 
used it to illustrate his eternal roundabout of opposites, the "Way Up and Down." [109:| 

To people who equated the psyche with the empirical personality, as the fifth century mostly did, 
such an assertion made no sense at all; it was a fantastic paradox, whose comic possibilities did not 
escape the eye of Aristophanes. [llo:i Nor does it 



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make much better sense if we equate "soul" with reason. I should suppose that for people who took it 
seriously what lay "dead" within the body was neither the reason nor the empirical man, but an 
"occult" self, Pindar's "image of life," which is indestructible but can function only in the exceptional 
conditions of sleep or trance. That man has two "souls," one of divine, the other of earthly origin, was 
already taught (if our late authority can be trusted) by Pherecydes of Syros. And it is significant that 
Empedocles, on whom our knowledge of early Greek puritanism chiefly depends, avoids applying the 
term psyche to the indestructible self. [111] He appears to have thought of the psyche as being the 
vital warmth which at death is re-absorbed in the fiery element from which it came (that was a fairly 
common fifth-century view). [112:| The occult self which persisted through successive incarnations he 
called, not "psyche, " but "daemon." This daemon has, apparently, nothing to do with perception or 
thought, which Empedocles held to be mechanically determined; the function of the daemon is to be 
the carrier of man's potential divinity 1113 - 1 and actual guilt. It is nearer in some ways to the indwelling 
spirit which the shaman inherits from other shamans than it is to the rational "soul" in which Socrates 
believed; but it has been moralised as a guilt-carrier, and the world of the senses has become the 
Hades in which it suffers torment. [114:| That torment Empedocles has described in some of the 
strangest and most moving religious poetry which has come down to us from antiquity. [ 115:1 

The complementary aspect of the doctrine was its teaching on the subject of catharsis— the means 
whereby the occult self might be advanced on the ladder of being, and its eventual liberation 
hastened. To judge from its title, this was the central theme of Empedocles' poem, though the parts 




which dealt with it are mostly lost. The notion of catharsis was no novelty; as we saw earlier, 11161 it 
was a major preoccupation of religious minds throughout the Archaic Age. But in the new pattern of 
belief it acquired a new content and a new urgency: man must be cleansed not only from specific 
pollutions, but, so far as 



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might be, from all taint of carnality— that was the condition of his redemption. "From the company of 
the pure I come, pure Queen of those below"— thus the soul speaks to Persephone in the poem of the 
gold plates. [1171 Purls, rather than justice, has become the cardinal means to salvation. And since it 
is a magical, not a rational self that has to be cleansed, the techniques of catharsis are not rational but 
magical. They might consist solely in ritual, as in the Orphic books that Plato denounced for their 
demoralising effect. [lliii Or they might use the incantatory power of music, as in the catharsis 
attributed to the Pythagoreans, which seems to have developed from primitive charms [1191 

Or they might also involve an "askesis, " the practice of a special way of life. 

We have seen that the need for some such askesis was implicit from the first in the shamanistic 
tradition. But the archaic guilt-culture gave it a peculiar direction. The vegetarianism which is the 
central feature of Orphic and of some Pythagorean askesis is usually treated simply as a corollary to 
transmigration: the beast you kill for food may be the dwelling-place of a human soul or self. That is 
how Empedocles explained it. But he is not quite logical: he ought to have felt the same revulsion 
against eating vegetables, since he believed that his own occult self had once inhabited a bush. [12t>1 
Behind his imperfect rationalisation there lies, I suspect, something older— the ancient horror of split 
blood. In scrupulous minds the fear of that pollution may well have extended its domain, as such fears 
will, until it embraced all shedding of blood, animal as well as human. As Aristophanes tells us, the rule 
of Orpheus was <t>ovu v &r&fo0ai, "shed no blood and Pythagoras is said to have avoided contact with 
butchers and huntsmen— presumably because they were not only wicked, but dangerously unclean; 
carriers of an infectious pollution. [l211 Besides food taboos, the Pythagorean Society seems to have 
imposed other austerities on its members, such as a rule of silence for novices, and certain sexual 
restrictions. [1221 But it was perhaps only Empedocles who took the final, logical step of the Manichee; 
I see no reason to dis- 



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believe the statement that he denounced marriage and all sex relations, [1231 though the verses in 
which he did so are not actually preserved. If the tradition is right on this point, puritanism. not only 
originated in Greece, but was carried by a Greek mind to its extreme theoretical limit. 

One question remains. What is the original root of all this wickedness? How comes it that a divine 
self sins and suffers in mortal bodies? As a Pythagorean poet phrased it, "Whence came mankind, and 
whence became so evil?" [1241 To this unescapable question Orphic poetry, at any rate later Orphic 
poetry, provided a mythological answer. It all began with the wicked Titans, who trapped the infant 
Dionysus, tore him to bits, boiled him, roasted him, ate him, and were themselves immediately burned 
up by a thunderbolt from Zeus; from the smoke of their remains sprang the human race, who thus 
inherit the horrid tendencies of the Titans, tempered by a tiny portion of divine soul-stuff, which is the 
substance of the god Dionysus still working in them as an occult self. Pausanias says that this 
story— or rather, the Titans' part in it— was invented by Onomacritus in the sixth century (he implies 
that the rending of Dionysus is older). [1251 And everyone believed Pausanias until Wilamowitz, finding 
no clear and certain allusion to the Titan myth in any writer earlier than the third century B.C. , 
inferred it to be a Hellenistic invention. [1261 The inference has been accepted by one or two scholars 
whose judgement I respect, [1271 and it is with great hesitation that I differ from them and from 
Wilamowitz. There are indeed grounds for discounting Pausanias' statements about Onomacritus; [12Si 
yet several considerations combine to persuade me that the myth is nevertheless old. The first is its 
archaic character: it is founded on the ancient Dionysiac ritual of Sparagmos and Omophagia , [1291 
and it implies the archaic belief in inherited guilt, which in the Hellenistic Age had begun to be a 
discredited superstition. [1301 The second is the Pindar quotation in Plato's Meno , where "the penalty 
of an ancient grief" is most naturally explained as referring to human responsibility 



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for the slaying of Dionysus. [1311 Thirdly, in one passage of the Laws Plato refers to people who "show 
off the old Titan nature," [1321 and in another to sacrilegious impulses which are "neither of man nor 
of god" but arise "from old misdeeds unpurgeable by man." [1331 And fourthly, we are told that Plato's 




pupil Xenocrates somehow connected the notion of the body as a "prison" with Dionysus and the 
Titans. [134] Individually, these apparent references to the myth can at a pinch be explained away; 
but taking them together, I find it hard to resist the conclusion that the complete story was known to 
Plato and his public. [135 -* 

If that is so, ancient like modern puritanism had its doctrine of Original Sin, which explained the 
universality of guilt-feelings. True, the physical transmission of guilt by bodily inheritance was strictly 
inconsistent with the view which made the persistent occult self its carrier. But that need not greatly 
surprise us. The Indian Upanishads similarly managed to combine the old belief in hereditary pollution 
with the newer doctrine of reincarnation; [136] and Christian theology finds it possible to reconcile the 
sinful inheritance of Adam with individual moral responsibility. The Titan myth neatly explained to the 
Greek puritan why he felt himself to be at once a god and a criminal; the "Apolline" sentiment of 
remoteness from the divine and the "Dionysiac" sentiment of identity with it were both of them 
accounted for and both of them justified. That was something that went deeper than any logic. 



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VI 

Rationalism And Reaction I n The Classical Age 

The major advances in civilisation are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur. 
A. N. WHITEHEAD 



IN THE . previous chapters of this book I have tried to illustrate within a particular field of belief the 
slow, age-long building up, out of the deposit left by successive religious movements, of what Gilbert 
Murray in a recently published lecture has called "the Inherited Conglomerate." 111 The geological 
metaphor is apt, for religious growth is geological: its principle is, on the whole and with exceptions, 
agglomeration , not substitution. A new belief-pattern very seldom effaces completely the pattern that 
was there before: either the old lives on as an element in the new— sometimes an unconfessed and 
half-unconscious element— or else the two persist side by side, logically incompatible, but 
contemporaneously accepted by different individuals or even by the same individual. As an example of 
the first situation, we have seen how Homeric notions like ate were taken up into, and transformed by, 
the archaic guilt-culture. As an example of the second, we have seen how the Classical Age inherited a 
whole series of inconsistent pictures Of the "soul" or "self"— the living corpse in the grave, the 
shadowy image in Hades, the perishable breath that is split in the air or absorbed in the aether, the 
daemon that is reborn in other bodies. Though of varying age and derived from different 
culture-patterns, all 



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these pictures persisted in the background of fifth-century thinking; you could take some one of them 
seriously, or more than one, or even all, since there was no Established Church to assure you that this 
was true and the other false. On questions like that there was no "Greek view," but only a muddle of 
conflicting answers. 

Such, then, was the Inherited Conglomerate at the end of the Archaic Age, historically intelligible 
as the reflex of changing human needs over many successive generations, but intellectually a mass of 
confusion. We saw in passing how Aeschylus attempted to master this confusion and to elicit from it 
something which made moral sense. [2:| But in the period between Aeschylus and Plato the attempt 
was not renewed. In that period the gap between the beliefs of the people and the beliefs of the 
intellectuals, which is already implicit in Homer, [3] widens to a complete breach, and prepares the way 
for the gradual dissolution of the Conglomerate. With certain consequences of this process, and of the 
attempts that were made to check it, I shall be concerned in the remaining chapters. 

The process itself does not, in its general aspect, form part of my subject. It belongs to the history 
of Greek rationalism, which has been written often enough. [4] But certain things are perhaps worth 
saying about it. One is that the "Aufklarung" or Enlightenment was not initiated by the Sophists. It 
seems desirable to say this, because there are still people who talk as if "Enlightenment" and Sophistic 




Movement were the same thing, and proceed to envelope both in the same blanket of condemnation 
or (less often) approval. The Enlightenment is of course much older; its mots are in sixth-century 
Ionia; it is at work in Hecataeus, Xenophanes, and Heraclitus, and in a later generation is carried 
further by Speculative scientists like Anaxagoras and Democritus. Hecataeus is the first Greek who 
admitted that he found Greek mythology "funny," [5:| and set to work to make it less funny by 
inventing rationalist explanations, while his contemporary Xenophanes attacked the Homeric and 
Hesiodic myths from the moral angle. [6] More 



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important for our purposes is the statement that Xenophanes denied the validity of divination (uavrudi 
if this is true, it means that, almost alone among classical Greek thinkers, he swept aside not 
only the pseudo-science of reading omens but the whole deep-seated complex of ideas about 
inspiration which occupied us in an earlier chapter. But his decisive contribution was his discovery of 
the relativity of religious ideas. "If the ox could paint a picture, his god would look like an ox": [sl once 
that had been said, it could only be a matter of time before the entire fabric of traditional belief began 
to loosen. Xenophanes was himself a deeply religious man; he had his private faith in a god "who is 
not like men in appearance or in mind." [9:| But he was conscious that it was faith, not knowledge. No 
man, he says, has ever had, or ever will have, sure knowledge about gods; even if he should chance 
to hit on the exact truth, he cannot know that he has done so, though we can all have our opinions. 
[lo:i That honest distinction between what is knowable and what is not appears again and again in 
fifth-century thought, [11:| and is surely one of its chief glories; it is the foundation of scientific 
humility. 

Again, if we turn to the fragments of Heraclitus, we find a whole series of direct assaults on the 
Conglomerate, some of which concern the types of belief we have considered in previous chapters. His 
denial of validity to dream-experience we have already noticed. [12] He made fun of ritual catharsis, 
comparing those who purge blood with blood to a man who should try to wash off dirt by bathing in 
mud. [13 -‘ That was a direct blow at the consolations of religion. So was his complaint that "the 
customary mysteries" were conducted in an unholy manner, though unluckily we do not know on what 
the criticism was based or exactly what mysteries he had in mind. [14] Again, the saying 

Korpiuv upiTiriTtpoi.' "dead is nastier than dung," might have been approved by Socrates, but it 
was a studied insult to ordinary Greek sentiment: it dismisses in three words all the pother about 
burial rites which figures so largely both in Attic tragedy and in Greek military history, and indeed the 



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whole tangle of feelings which centred round the ghost-corpse. [15] Another three-word maxim, 

R&w avBpu'Tw 6al^wj| "character is destiny," similarly dismisses by implication the whole set of archaic 
beliefs about inborn luck and divine temptation. *- 16] And finally, Heraclitus had the temerity to attack 
what to this day is still a leading feature of Greek popular religion, the cult of images, which he 
declared was like talking to a man's house instead of talking to its owner. [17] Had Heraclitus been an 
Athenian, he would pretty certainly have been had up for blasphemy, as Wilamowitz says. [18:| 

However, we must not exaggerate the influence of these early pioneers. Xenophanes, and still 
more Heraclitus, give the impression of being isolated figures even in Ionia, [19:| and it was a long time 
before their ideas found any echo on the Mainland. Euripides is the first Athenian of whom we can say 
with confidence that he had read Xenophanes, [20:| and he is also represented as introducing the 
teaching of Heraclitus for the first time to the Athenian public. [21] But by Euripides' day the 
Enlightenment had been carried much further. It was probably Anaxagoras who taught him to call the 
divine sun "a golden clod," l22 ^ and it may have been the same philosopher who inspired his mockery 
of the professional seers; [23] while it was certainly the Sophists who set him and his whole generation 
discussing fundamental moral questions in terms of Nomos versus Physis , "Law" or "Custom" or 
"Convention" versus "Nature." 

I do not propose to say much about this celebrated antithesis, whose origin and ramifications have 
been carefully examined in a recent book by a young Swiss scholar, Felix Heinimann. [24] But it may 
not be superfluous to point out that thinking in these terms could lead to widely different conclusions 
according to the meaning you assigned to the terms themselves. Nomos could stand for the 
Conglomerate, conceived as the inherited burden of irrational custom; or it could stand for an arbitrary 
rule consciously imposed by certain classes in their own interest; or it could stand for a rational system 
of State law. 




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the achievement which distinguished Greeks from barbarians. Similarly Physis could represent an 
unwritten, unconditionally valid "natural law," against the particularism of local custom; or it could 
represent the "natural rights" of the individual, against the arbitrary requirements of the State; and 
this in turn could pass— as always happens when rights are asserted without a corresponding 
recognition of duties— into a pure anarchic immoralism, the "natural right of the stronger" as 
expounded by the Athenians in the Melian Dialogue and by Callicles in the Gorgias . It is not surprising 
that an antithesis whose terms were so ambiguous led to a vast amount of argument at 
cross-purposes. But through the fog of confused and for us fragmentary controversy we can dimly 
perceive two great issues being fought out. One is the ethical question concerning the source and the 
validity of moral and political obligation. The other is the psychological question concerning the springs 
of human conduct— why do men behave as they do, and how can they be induced to behave better? It 
is only the second of these issues which concerns us here. 

On that issue the first generation of Sophists, in particular Protagoras, seem to have held a view 
whose optimism is pathetic in retrospect, but historically intelligible. "Virtue or Efficiency (arete ) could 
be taught": by criticising his traditions, by modernising the Nomos which his ancestors had created 
and eliminating from it the last vestiges of "barbarian silliness," [25] man could acquire a new Art of 
Living, and human life could be raised to new levels hitherto undreamed of. Such a hope is 
understandable in men who had witnessed the swift growth of material prosperity after the Persian 
Wars, and the unexampled flowering of the spirit that accompanied it, culminating in the unique 
achievements of Periclean Athens. For that generation, the Golden Age was no lost paradise of the dim 
past, as Hesiod had believed; for them it lay not behind but ahead, and not so very far ahead either. 

In a civilised community, declared Protagoras robustly, the very worst citizen was already a better 
man than the supposedly noble savage. 12S - Better, in fact, fifty 



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years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay. But history has, alas, a short way with optimists. Had 
Tennyson experienced the latest fifty years of Europe he might, I fancy, have reconsidered his 
preference; and Protagoras before he died had ample ground for revising his. Faith in the inevitability 
of progress had an even shorter run in Athens than in England. [271 

In what I take to be a quite early dialogue, Plato set this Protagorean view of human nature over 
against the Socratic. Superficially, the two have much in common. Both use the traditional [ 2 3 - 
utilitarian language: "good" means "good for the individual," and is not distinguished from the 
"profitable" or the "useful." And both have the traditional 1291 intellectualist approach: they agree, 
against the common opinion of their time, that if a man really knew what was good for him he would 
act on his knowledge. 1301 Each, however, qualifies his intellectualism with a different sort of 
reservation. For Protagoras, arete can be taught, but not by an intellectual discipline: one "picks it up," 
as a child picks up his native language; [31] it is transmitted not by formal teaching, but by what the 
anthropologists call "social control." For Socrates, on the other hand, arete is or should be episteme , a 
branch of scientific knowledge: in this dialogue he is even made to talk as if its appropriate method 
were the nice calculation of future pains and pleasures, and I am willing to believe that he did at times 
so talk. [321 Yet he is also made to doubt whether arete can be taught at all, and this too I am willing 
to accept as historical. [33] For to Socrates arete was something which proceeded from within 
outward; it was not a set of behaviour-patterns to be acquired through habituation, but a consistent 
attitude of mind springing from a steady insight into the nature and meaning of human life. In its 
self-consistency it resembled a science; [34] but I think we should be wrong to interpret the insight as 
purely logical— it involved the whole man. [35] Socrates no doubt believed in "following the argument 
wherever it led"; but he found that too often it led only to fresh questions, and where it failed him he 
was prepared to follow other guides. We should not forget that he took 



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both dreams and oracles very seriously, [36] and that he habitually heard and obeyed an inner voice 
which knew more than he did (if we can believe Xenophon, [371 he called it, quite simply, "the voice of 
God"). 

Thus neither Protagoras nor Socrates quite fits the popular modern conception of a "Greek 
rationalist." But what seems to us odd is that both of them dismiss so easily the part played by 
emotion in determining ordinary human behavior. And we know from Plato that this seemed odd to 
their contemporaries also; on this matter there was a sharp cleavage between the intellectuals and the 
common man. "Most people," says Socrates, "do not think of knowledge as a force (l<rxup6c), much less 




a dominant or ruling force: they think a man may often have knowledge while he is ruled by 
something else, at one time anger, at another pleasure or pain, sometimes love, very often fear; they 
really picture knowledge as a slave which is kicked about by all these other things." *- 38] Protagoras 
agrees that this is the common view, but considers it not worth discussing— "the common man will say 
anything." [39:| Socrates, who does discuss it, explains it away by translating it into intellectual terms: 
the nearness of an immediate pleasure or pain leads to false judgements analogous to errors of visual 
perspective; a scientific moral arithmetic would correct these. [40:| 

It is unlikely that such reasoning impressed the common man. The Greek had always felt the 
experience of passion as something mysterious and frightening, the experience of a force that was in 
him, possessing him, rather than possessed by him. The very word pathos testifies to that: like its 
Latin equivalent passio , it means something that "happens to" a man, something of which he is the 
passive victim. Aristotle compares the man in a state of passion to men asleep, insane, or drunk: his 
reason, like theirs, is in suspense. [41] We saw in earlier chapters 142 - 1 how Homer's heroes and the 
men of the Archaic Age interpreted such experience in religious terms, as ate , as a communication of 
menos , or as the direct working of a daemon who uses the human mind and body as his instrument. 



- 186 - 



That is the usual view of simple people: "the primitive under the influence of strong passion considers 
himself as possessed, or ill, which for him is the same thing." [43] That way of thinking was not dead 
even in the late fifth century. Jason at the end of the Medea can explain his wife's conduct only as the 
act of an alastor , the daemon created by unatoned bloodguilt; the Chorus of the Hippolytus think that 
Phaedra may be possessed, and she herself speaks at first of her condition as the ate of a daemon. 



But for the poet, and for the educated part of his audience, this language has now only the force 
of a traditional symbolism. The daemonic world has withdrawn, leaving man alone with his passions. 
And this is what gives Euripides' studies of crime their peculiar poignancy: he shows us men and 
women nakedly confronting the mystery of evil, no longer as an alien thing assailing their reason from 
without, but as a part of their own being— yet, for ceasing to be supernatural, it is 
not the less mysterious and terrifying. Medea knows that she is at grips, not with an alastot , but with 
her own irrational self, her thumos . She entreats that self for mercy, as a slave begs mercy of a brutal 
master. [45 -* But in vain: the springs of action are hidden in the thumos where neither reason nor pity 
can reach them. "I know what wickedness I am about to do; but the thumos is stronger than my 
purposes, thumos , the root of man's worst acts." [46] On these words, she leaves the stage; when 
she returns, she has condemned her children to death and herself to a lifetime of foreseen 
unhappiness. For Medea has no Socratic "illusions of perspective"; she makes no mistake in her moral 
arithmetic, any more than she mistakes her passion for an evil spirit. Therein lies her supreme tragic 
quality. 



Whether the poet had Socrates in mind when he wrote the Medea , I do not know. But a conscious 
rejection of the Socratic theory has been seen, [47:| I think rightly, in the famous words that he put 
into the mouth of Phaedra three years later. Misconduct, she says, does not depend on a failure of 
insight, "for plenty of people have a good understanding." No, we know and 



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recognise our good, but fail to act on the knowledge: either a kind of inertia obstructs us, or we are 
distracted from our purpose by "some pleasure." *- 48:i This does look as if it had a controversial point, 
for it goes beyond what the dramatic situation requires or even suggests. [49] Nor do these passages 
stand alone; the moral impotence of the reason is asserted more than once in fragments from lost 
plays. [50:| But to judge from extant pieces, what chiefly preoccupied Euripides in his later work was 
not so much the impotence of reason in man as the wider doubt whether any rational purpose could 
be seen in the ordering of human life and the governance of the world. [51] That trend culminates in 
the Bacchae , whose religious content is, as a recent critic has said, [52] the recognition of a "Beyond" 
which is outside our moral categories and inaccessible to our reason. I do not maintain that a 
consistent philosophy of life can be extracted from the plays (nor should we demand this of a 
dramatist writing in an age of doubt). But if we must attach a label, I still think that the word 
"irrationalist," which I once suggested, [53] fits Euripides better than any other. 

This does not imply that Euripides followed the extreme Physis school, who provided human 
weakness with a fashionable excuse by declaring that the passions were "natural" and therefore right, 
morality a convention and therefore a shackle to be cast off. "Be natural," says the Unjust Cause in the 
Clouds ; "kick up your heels, laugh at the world, take no shame for anything." [54] Certain characters 
in Euripides follow this counsel, if in a less lighthearted manner. "Nature willed it," says an erring 




daughter, "and nature pays no heed to rules: we women were made for this." [551 "I don't need your 
advice," says a homosexual; "I can see for myself, but nature constrains me." [5f>1 Even the most 
deeply rooted of man's taboos, the prohibition of incest, is dismissed with the remark, "There's nothing 
shameful but thinking makes it so." [571 There must have been young people in Euripides' circle who 
talked like that (we are familiar with their modern counterparts). But I doubt if the poet shared their 
opinions. For his Choruses re- 



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peatedly go out of their way to denounce, without much dramatic relevance, certain persons who 
"slight the law, to gratify lawless impulse," whose aim is *5 Katovpytiv f "to do wrong and get away with 
it," whose theory and practice is "above the laws," for whom aidos and arete are mere words. [58] 
These unnamed persons are surely the Physis men, or the pupils of the Physis men, the "realist" 
politicians whom we meet in Thucydides. 

Euripides, then, if I am right about him, reflects not only the Enlightenment, but also the reaction 
against the Enlightenment— at any rate he reacted against the rationalist psychology of some of its 
exponents and the slick immoralism of others. To the violence of the public reaction there is, of 
course, other testimony. The audience that saw the Clouds was expected to enjoy the burning down of 
the Thinking Shop, and to care little if Socrates were burnt with it. But satirists are bad witnesses, and 
with sufficient good will it is possible to believe that the Clouds is just Aristophanes' friendly fun. ^ 591 
More secure deductions can perhaps be drawn from a less familiar bit of evidence. A fragment of 
Lysias 1601 makes us acquainted with a certain dining-club. This club had a curious and shocking name: 
its members called themselves 

Kokc jaipoviarai 

, a profane parody of the name 

'Aya9o&aipovi<jTai 

which respectable social clubs sometimes adopted. Liddell and Scott translate it "devil-worshippers," 
and that would be the literal meaning; but Lysias is no doubt right in saying that they chose the title 
"to make fun of the gods and of Athenian custom." He further tells us that they made a point of dining 
on unlucky days ( 

i)ix{p(u 

&iro<t>pa.5fs 

), which suggests that the club's purpose was to exhibit its scorn of superstition by deliberately 
tempting the gods, deliberately doing as many unlucky things as possible, including the adoption of an 
unlucky name. One might think this pretty harmless. But according to Lysias the gods were not 
amused: most of the members of the club died young, and the sole survivor, the poet Kinesias, [611 
was afflicted with a chronic disease so painful as to be worse than death. This un- 



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important story seems to me to illustrate two things rather well. It illustrates the sense of 
liberation— liberation from meaningless rules and irrational guilt-feelings— which the Sophists brought 
with them, and which made their teaching so attractive to the high-spirited and intelligent young. And 
it also shows how strong was the reaction against such rationalism in the breast of the average citizen: 
for Lysias evidently relies on the awful scandal of the dining-club to discredit Kinesias' testimony in a 
lawsuit. 

But the most striking evidence of the reaction against the Enlightenment is to be seen in the 
successful prosecutions of intellectuals on religious grounds which took place at Athens in the last third 
of the fifth century. About 432 B.C. [621 or a year or two later, disbelief in the supernatural 1631 and 
the teaching of astronomy 1641 were made indictable offences. The next thirty-odd years witnessed a 
series of heresy trials which is unique in Athenian history. The victims included most of the leaders of 
progressive thought at Athens— Anaxagoras, [65] Diagoras, Socrates, almost certainly Protagoras also, 
f 661 and possibly Euripides. [671 In all these cases save the last the prosecution was successful: 
Anaxagoras may have been fined and banished; Diagoras escaped by flight; so, probably, did 
Protagoras; Socrates, who could have done the same, or could have asked for a sentence of 
banishment, chose to stay and drink the hemlock. All these were famous people. How many obscurer 
persons may have suffered for their opinions we do not know. t6E ^ But the evidence we have is more 
than enough to prove that the Great Age of Greek Enlightenment was also, like our own time, an Age 
of Persecution— banishment of scholars, blinkering of thought, and even (if we can believe the tradition 
about Protagoras) [691 burning of books. 

This distressed and puzzled nineteenth-century professors, who had not our advantage of 
familiarity with this kind of behaviour. It puzzled them the more because it happened at Athens, the 




"school of Hellas," the "headquarters of philosophy," and, so far as our information goes, nowhere 
else. [701 



- 190 - 

Hence a tendency to cast doubt on the evidence wherever possible; and where this was not possible, 
to explain that the real motive behind the prosecutions was political. Up to a point, this was doubtless 
true, at least in some of the cases: the accusers of Anaxagoras were presumably, as Plutarch says, 
striking at his patron Pericles; and Socrates might well have escaped condemnation had he not been 
associated with men like Critias and Alcibiades. But granting all this, we have still to explain why at 
this period a charge of irreligion was so often selected as the surest means of suppressing an 
unwelcome voice or damaging a political opponent. We seem driven to assume the existence among 
the masses of an exasperated religious bigotry on which politicians could play for their own purposes. 
And the exasperation must have had a cause. 

Nilsson has suggested 1711 that it was whipped up by the professional diviners, who saw in the 
advance of rationalism a threat to their prestige, and even to their livelihood. That seems quite likely. 
The proposer of the decree which set off the series of prosecutions was the professional diviner 
Diopeithes; Anaxagoras had exposed the true nature of so-called "portents"; [72] while Socrates had a 
private "oracle " [731 of his own which may well have aroused jealousy. [74] The influence of diviners, 
however, had its limits. To judge by the constant jokes at their expense in Aristophanes, they were not 
greatly loved or (save at moments of crisis) [75] wholly trusted: like the politicians, they might exploit 
popular sentiment, but they were hardly in a position to create it. 

More important, perhaps, was the influence of wartime hysteria. If we allow for the fact that wars 
cast their shadows before them and leave emotional disturbances behind them, the Age of Persecution 
coincides pretty closely with the longest and most disastrous war in Greek history. The coincidence is 
hardly accidental. It has been observed that "in times of danger to the community the whole tendency 
to conformity is greatly strengthened: the herd huddles together and becomes more intolerant than 
ever of 'cranky' opinion." [ ?fcJ We have seen 



- 191 - 

this observation confirmed in two recent wars, and we may assume that it was not otherwise in 
antiquity. Antiquity had indeed a conscious reason for insisting on religious conformity in wartime, 
where we have only unconscious ones. To offend the gods by doubting their existence, or by calling 
the sun a stone, was risky enough in peacetime; but in war it was practically treason— it amounted to 
helping the enemy. For religion was a collective responsibility. The gods were not content to strike 
down the individual offender: did not Hesiod say that whole cities often suffered for one bad man? [771 
That these ideas were still very much alive in the minds of the Athenian populace is evident from the 
enormous hysterical fuss created by the mutilation of the Hermae. [78] 

That, I think, is part of the explanation— superstitious terror based on the solidarity of the 
city-state. I should like to believe that it was the whole explanation. But it would be dishonest not to 
recognise that the new rationalism carried with it real as well as imaginary dangers for the social 
order. In discarding the Inherited Conglomerate, many people discarded with it the religious restraints 
that had held human egotism on the leash. To men of strong moral principle— a Protagoras or a 
Democritus— that did not matter: their conscience was adult enough to stand up without props. It was 
otherwise with most of their pupils. To them, the liberation of the individual meant an unlimited 
freedom of self-assertion; it meant rights without duties, unless self-assertion is a duty; "what their 
fathers had called self-control they called an excuse for cowardice." [79] Thucydides put that down to 
war mentality, and no doubt this was the immediate cause; Wilamowitz rightly remarked that the 
authors of the Corcyraean massacres did not have to learn about the transvaluation of values from a 
course of lectures by Hippias. The new rationalism did not enable men to behave like beasts— men 
have always been able to do that. But it enabled them to justify their brutality to themselves, and that 
at a time when the external temptations to brutal conduct were particularly strong. As someone has 
said in reference to our own en- 



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lightened age, seldom have so many babies been poured out With so little bath-water. 1801 Therein lay 
the immediate danger, a danger which has always shown itself when an Inherited Conglomerate was 
in process of breaking down. In Professor Murray's words, "Anthropology seems to show that these 
Inherited Conglomerates have practically no chance of being true or even sensible; and, on the other 




hand, that no society can exist without them or even submit to any drastic correction of them without 
social danger." * 811 Of the latter truth there was, I take it, some confused inkling in the minds of the 
men who charged Socrates with corrupting the young. Their fears were not groundless; but as people 
do when they are frightened, they struck with the wrong weapon and they struck the wrong man. 

The Enlightenment also affected the social fabric in another and more permanent way. What Jacob 
Burckhardt said of nineteenth-century religion, that it was "rationalism for the few and magic for the 
many," might on the whole be said of Greek religion from the late fifth century onwards. Thanks to the 
Enlightenment, and the absence of universal education, the divorce between the beliefs of the few and 
the beliefs of the many was made absolute, to the injury of both. Plato is almost the last Greek 
intellectual who seems to have real social roots; his successors, with very few exceptions, make the 
impression of existing beside society rather than in it. They are "sapientes" first, citizens afterwards or 
not at all, and their touch upon contemporary social realities is correspondingly uncertain. This fact is 
familiar. What is less often noticed is the regressiveness of popular religion in the Age of 
Enlightenment. The first signs of this regression appeared during the Peloponnesian War, and were 
doubtless in part due to the war. Under the stresses that it generated, people began to slip back from 
the too difficult achievement of the Periclean Age; cracks appeared in the fabric, and disagreeably 
primitive things poked up here and there through the cracks. When that happened, there was no 
longer any effective check on their growth. As the 



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intellectuals withdrew further into a world of their own, the popular mind was left increasingly 
defenceless, though it must be said that for several generations the comic poets continued to do their 
best. The loosening of the ties of civic religion began to set men free to choose their own gods, instead 
of simply worshipping as their fathers had done; and, left without guidance, a growing number 
relapsed with a sigh of relief into the pleasures and comforts of the primitive. 

I shall conclude this chapter by giving some examples of what I call regression. One instance we 
have already had occasion to notice*- 821 —the increased demand for magical healing which within a 
generation or two transformed Asclepius from a minor hero into a major god, and made his temple at 
Epidaurus a place of pilgrimage as famous as Lourdes is to-day. It is a reasonable guess that his fame 
at Athens (and perhaps elsewhere too) dated from the Great Plague of 430. * 83] That visitation, 
according to Thucydides, convinced some people that religion was useless, * 84 -* since piety proved no 
protection against bacilli; but it must have set others looking for a new and better magic. Nothing 
could be done at the time; but in 420, during the interval of peace, Asclepius was solemnly inducted 
into Athens, accompanied, or more probably represented, by his Holy Snake. * 85 -* Until a house could 
be built for him, he enjoyed the hospitality of no less a person than the poet Sophocles— a fact which 
has its bearing on the understanding of Sophocles' poetry. As Wilamowitz observed, * 86] one cannot 
think that either Aeschylus or Euripides would have cared to entertain a Holy Snake. But nothing 
illustrates better the polarisation of the Greek mind at this period than the fact that the generation 
which paid such honour to this medical reptile saw also the publication of some of the most austerely 
scientific of the Hippocratic treatises. * 87] 

A second example of regression may be seen in the fashion for foreign cults, mostly of a highly 
emotional, "orgiastic" kind, which developed with surprising suddenness during the Peloponnesian 
War. * 881 Before it was over, there had appeared at 



- 194 - 

Athens the worship of the Phrygian "Mountain Mother," Cybele, and that of her Thracian counterpart, 
Bendis; the mysteries of the Thraco-Phrygian Sabazius, a sort of savage un-Hellenised Dionysus; and 
the rites of the Asiatic "dying gods," Attis and Adonis. I have discussed this significant development 
elsewhere, * iJ9] so shall not say more about it here. 

A generation or so later, we find the regression taking an even cruder form. That in the fourth 
century there was at Athens plenty of "magic for the many," and in the most literal sense of the term, 
we know from the first-hand evidence of the "defixiones." The practice of defixio or (cardJmr was a kind 
of magical attack. It was believed that you could bind a person's will, or cause his death, by invoking 
upon him the curse of the underworld Powers; you inscribed the curse on something durable, a leaden 
tablet or a potsherd, and you placed it for choice in a dead man's grave. Hundreds of such "defixiones" 
have been found by excavators in many parts of the Mediterranean world, * 90 -* and indeed similar 
practices are observed occasionally to-day, both in Greece* 91 -* and in other parts of Europe. * 92 -* But it 
seems significant that the oldest examples so far discovered come from Greece, most of them from 
Attica; and that while exceedingly few examples can be referred with certainty to the fifth century, in 




the fourth they are suddenly quite numerous. [93] The persons cursed in them include well-known 
public figures like Phocion and Demosthenes, [94] which suggests that the practice was not confined to 
slaves or aliens. Indeed, it was sufficiently common in Plato's day for him to think it worth while to 
legislate against it, [95:| as also against the kindred method of magical attack by maltreating a wax 
image of one's enemy. [961 Plato makes it clear that people were really afraid of this magical 
aggression, and he would prescribe severe legal penalties for it (in the case of professional magicians 
the death penalty), not because he himself believes in black magic— as to that he professes to have an 
open mind [97:i —but because black magic expresses an evil will and has evil psychological effects. Nor 
was this merely the private fussiness of an 



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elderly moralist. From a passage in the speech Against Aristogeiton 198 - 1 we may infer that in the fourth 
century attempts were actually made to repress magic by drastic legal action. Taking all this evidence 
together, in contrast with the almost complete silence of our fifth-century sources, [99:| I am inclined 
to conclude that one effect of the Enlightenment was to provoke in the second generation [loo:i a 
revival of magic. That is not so paradoxical as it sounds: has not the breakdown of another Inherited 
Conglomerate been followed by similar manifestations in our own age? 

All the symptoms I have mentioned— the revival of incubation, the taste for orgiastic religion, the 
prevalence of magical attack— can be viewed as regressive; they were in a sense a return of the past. 
But they were also, in another aspect, portents of things to come. As we shall see in the final chapter, 
they point forward to characteristic features of the Greco-Roman world. But before we come to that, 
we must consider Plato's attempt to stabilise the situation. 



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VII 

Plato, The I rrational Soul, And The I nherited Conglomerate 

There is no hope in returning to a traditional faith after it has once been abandoned, since the essential condition in the 
holder of a traditional faith is that he should not know he is a traditionalist. 

AL GHAZALI 



THE LAST chapter described the decay of the inherited fabric of beliefs which set in during the fifth 
century, and some of its earlier results. I propose here to consider Plato's reaction to the situation thus 
created. The subject is important, not only because of Plato's position in the history of European 
thought, but because Plato perceived more clearly than anyone else the dangers inherent in the decay 
of an Inherited Conglomerate, and because in his final testament to the world he put forward 
proposals of great interest for stabilising the position by means of a counter-reformation. I am well 
aware that to discuss this matter fully would involve an examination of Plato's entire philosophy of life; 
but in order to keep the discussion within manageable limits I propose to concentrate on seeking 
answers to two questions: 

First, what importance did Plato himself attach to non-rational factors in human behaviour, and 
how did he interpret them? 

Secondly, what concessions was he prepared to make to the irrationalism of popular belief for the 
sake of stabilising the Conglomerate? 

It is desirable to keep these two questions distinct as far as possible, though, as we shall see, it is 
not always easy to decide 



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where Plato is expressing a personal faith and where he is merely using a traditional language. In 
trying to answer the first question, I shall have to repeat one or two things which I have already said 
in print, ^ but I shall have something to add on matters which I did not previously consider. 

One assumption I shall make. I shall assume that Plato's philosophy did not spring forth fully 




mature, either from his own head or from the head of Socrates; I shall treat it as an organic thing 
which grew and changed, partly in obedience to its inner law of growth, but partly also in response to 
external stimuli. And here it is relevant to remind you that Plato's life, like his thought, all but bridges 
the wide gulf between the death of Pericles and the acceptance of Macedonian hegemony. [2:| Though 
it is probable that all his writings belong to the fourth century, his personality and outlook were 
moulded in the fifth, and his earlier dialogues are still bathed in the remembered light of a vanished 
social world. The best example is to my mind the Protagoras , whose action is set in the golden years 
before the Great War; in its optimism, its genial worldliness, its frank utilitarianism, and its Socrates 
who is still no more than life-size, it seems to be an essentially faithful reproduction of the past. [3:| 
Plato's starting-point was thus historically conditioned. As the nephew of Charmides and kinsman 
of Critias, no less than as one of Socrates' young men, he was the child of the Enlightenment. He grew 
up in a social circle which not only took pride in settling all questions before the bar of reason, but had 
the habit of interpreting all human behaviour in terms of rational self-interest, and the belief that 
"virtue," arete , consisted essentially in a technique of rational living. That pride, that habit, and that 
belief remained with Plato to the end; the framework of his thought never ceased to be rationalist. But 
the contents of the framework came in time to be strangely transformed. There were good reasons for 
that. The transition from the fifth century to the fourth was marked (as our 



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own time has been marked) by events which might well induce any rationalist to reconsider his faith. 
To what moral and material ruin the principle of rational self-interest might lead a society, appeared in 
the fate of imperial Athens; to what it might lead the individual, in the fate of Critias and Charmides 
and their fellow-tyrants. And on the other hand, the trial of Socrates afforded the strange spectacle of 
the wisest man in Greece at the supreme crisis of his life deliberately and gratuitously flouting that 
principle, at any rate as the world understood it. 

It was these events, I think, which compelled Plato, not to abandon rationalism, but to transform 
its meaning by giving it a metaphysical extension. It took him a long time, perhaps a decade, to digest 
the new problems. In those years he no doubt turned over in his mind certain significant sayings of 
Socrates, for example, that "the human psyche has something divine about it" and that "one's first 
interest is to look after its health." But I agree with the opinion of the majority of scholars that 
what put Plato in the way of expanding these hints into a new transcendental psychology was his 
personal contact with the Pythagoreans of West Greece when he visited them about 390. If I am right 
in my tentative guess about the historical antecedents of the Pythagorean movement, Plato in effect 
cross-fertilised the tradition of Greek rationalism with magico-religious ideas whose remoter origins 
belong to the northern shamanistic culture. But in the form in which we meet them in Plato these 
ideas have been subjected to a double process of interpretation and transposition. A well-known 
passage of the Gorgias shows us in a concrete instance how certain philosophers— such men, perhaps, 
as Plato's friend Archytas— took over old mythical fancies about the fate of the soul and read into 
them new allegorical meanings which gave them moral and psychological significance. [5:| Such men 
prepared the way for Plato; but I should guess that it was Plato himself who by a truly creative act 
transposed these ideas definitively from the plane of revelation to the plane of rational argument. 



- 210 - 

The crucial step lay in the identification of the detachable "occult" self which is the carrier of 
guilt-feelings and potentially divine with the rational Socratic psyche whose virtue is a kind of 
knowledge. That step involved a complete reinterpretation of the old shamanistic culture-pattern. 
Nevertheless the pattern kept its vitality, and its main features are still recognisable in Plato. 
Reincarnation survives unchanged. The shaman's trance, his deliberate detachment of the occult self 
from the body, has become that practice of mental withdrawal and concentration which purifies the 
rational soul— a practice for which Plato in fact claims the authority of a traditional logos . The 
occult knowledge which the shaman acquires in trance has become a vision of metaphysical truth; his 
"recollection" of past earthly lives 17 - 1 has become a "recollection" of bodiless Forms which is made the 
basis of a new epistemology; while on the mythical level his "long sleep" and "underworld journey" 
provides a direct model for the experiences of Er the son of Armenius. [s] Finally, we shall perhaps 
understand better Plato's much-criticised "Guardians" if we think of them as a new kind of rationalised 
shamans who, like their primitive predecessors, are prepared for their high office by a special kind of 
discipline designed to modify the whole psychic structure; like them, must submit to a dedication that 
largely cuts them off from the normal satisfactions of humanity; like them, must renew their contact 
with the deep sources of wisdom by periodic "retreats"; and like them, will be rewarded after death by 




receiving a peculiar status in the spirit world. [9] It is likely that an approximation to this highly 
specialised human type already existed in the Pythagorean societies; but Plato dreamed of carrying the 
experiment much further, putting it on a serious scientific basis, and using it as the instrument of his 
counter-reformation. 

This visionary picture of a new sort of ruling class has often been cited as evidence that Plato's 
estimate of human nature was grossly unrealistic. But shamanistic institutions are not built on ordinary 
human nature; their whole concern is to ex- 



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ploit the possibilities of an exceptional type of personality. And the Republic is dominated by a similar 
concern. Plato admitted frankly that only a tiny fraction of the population 6\iyiaroy y tvo*) 

possessed the natural endowment which would make it possible to transform them into Guardians. [10] 
" For the rest— that is to say, the overwhelming majority of mankind— he seems to have recognised at 
all stages of his thought that, so long as they are not. exposed to the temptations of power, an 
intelligent hedonism provides the best practicable guide to a satisfactory life.* 11 -* But in the dialogues 
of his middle period, preoccupied as he then was with exceptional natures and their exceptional 
possibilities, he shows scant interest in the psychology of the ordinary man. 

In his later work, however, after he had dismissed the philosopher-kings as an impossible dream, 
and had fallen back on the rule of Law as a second-best, [ 12:1 " he paid more attention to the motives 
which govern ordinary human conduct, and even the philosopher is seen not to be exempt from their 
influence. To the question whether any one of us would be content with a life in which he possessed 
wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and a complete memory of the whole of history, but experienced 
no pleasure or pain, great or small, the answer given in the Philebus 113 - 1 is an, emphatic "No": we are 
anchored in the life of feeling which is part of our humanity, and cannot surrender it even to become 
"spectators of all time and all existence" 114 - 1 like the philosopher-kings. In the Laws we are told that 
the only practicable basis for public morals is the belief that honesty pays: "for no one," says Plato, 
"would consent, if he could help it, to a course of action which did not bring him more joy than 
sorrow. [15:| With that we seem to be back in the world of the Protagoras and of Jeremy Bentham. The 
legislator's position, however, is not identical with that of the common man. The common man wants 
to be happy; but Plato, who is legislating for him, wants him to be good. Plato therefore labours to 
persuade him that goodness and happiness go together. That this is true, Plato happens to believe; 
but did he not balieve it, he 



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would still pretend it true, as being "the most salutary lie that was ever told." [16] it is not Plato's own 
position that has changed: if anything has changed, it is his assessment of human capacity. In the 
Laws , at any rate, the virtue of the common man is evidently not based on knowledge, or even on 
true opinion as such, but on a process of conditioning or habituation 117 - 1 by which he is induced to 
accept and act on certain "salutary" beliefs. After all, says Plato, this is not too difficult: people who 
can believe in Cadmus and the dragon's teeth will believe anything. [le - Far from supposing, as his 
master had done, that "the unexamined life is no life for a human being, [19:| Plato now appears to hold 
that the majority of human beings can be kept in tolerable moral health only by a carefully chosen diet 
of "incantations" (eToiSal),! 20 ! —that is to say, edifying myths and bracing ethical slogans. We may say 
that in principle he accepts Burckhardt's dichotomy— rationalism for the few, magic for the many. We 
have seen, however, that his rationalism is quickened with ideas that once were magical; and on the 
other hand we shall see later how his "incantations" were to be made to serve rational ends. 

In other ways too, Plato's growing recognition of the importance of affective elements carried him 
beyond the limits of fifth-century rationalism. This appears very clearly in the development of his 
theory of Evil. It is true that to the end of his life> [21 - 1 he went on repeating the Socratic dictum that 
"No one commits an error if he can help it"; but he had long ceased to be content with the simple 
Socratic opinion which saw moral error as a kind of mistake in perspective. [22] When Plato took over 
the magico-religious view of the psyche , he at first took over with it the puritan dualism which 
attributed all the sins and sufferings of the psyche to the pollution arising from contact with a mortal 
body. In the Phaedo he transposed that doctrine into philosophical terms and gave it the formulation 
that was to become classical: only when by death or by self-discipline the rational self is purged of 
"the folly of the body 123 - 1 can it resume its true nature which is divine and sin- 



- 213 - 




less; the good life is the practice of that purgation, dav&rov. Both in antiquity and to-day, the 
general reader has been inclined to regard this as Plato's last word on the matter. But Plato was too 
penetrating and, at bottoms too realistic a thinker to be satisfied for long with the theory of the 
Phaedo . As soon as he turned from the occult self to the empirical man, he found himself driven to 
recognise an irrational factor within the mind itself, and thus to think of moral evil in terms of 
psychological conflict (<r7-d<m). [24] 

That is already so in the Repoublic : the same passage of Homer which in the Phaedo had 
illustrated the soul's dialogue with "the passions of the body" becomes in the Republic an internal 
dialogue between two "parts" of the soul; [25J the passions are no longer seen as an infection of 
extraneous origin, but as a necessary part of the life of the mind as we know it, and even as a source 
of energy, like Freud's libido , which can be "canalised" either towards sensuous or towards intellectual 
activity. The theory of inner conflict, vividly illustrated in the Republic by the tale of Leontius , 127 - 1 
was precisely formulated in the Sophist , [23J where it is defined as a psychological, maladjustment 
resulting "from some sort of injury, " [29] a kind of disease of the soul, and is said to be the cause of 
cowardice, intemperance, injustice, and (it would seem) moral evil in general, as distinct from 
ignorance or intellectual failure. This is something quite different both from the rationalism of the 
earliest dialogues and from the puritanism of the Phaedo , and goes a good deal deeper than either; I 
take it to be Plato's personal contribution. [30:| 

Yet Plato had not abandoned the transcendent rational self, whose perfect unity is the guarantee 
of its immortality. In the Timaeus , where he is trying to reformulate his-earlier vision of man's destiny 
in terms compatible with his later psychology and cosmology, we meet again the unitary soul of the 
Phaedo ; and it is significant that Plato here applies to it the old religious term that Empedocles had 
used for the occult self— he calls it the daemon. C31 ^ In the Timaeus , however, it has 



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another sort of soul or self "built on to it," "the mortal kind wherein are terrible and indispensable 
passions. " [32] Does not this mean that for Plato the human personality has virtually broken in two? 
Certainly it is not clear what bond unites or could unite an indestructible daemon resident in the 
human head with a set of irrational impulses housed in the chest or "tethered like a beast untamed" in 
the belly. We are reminded of the naive opinion of that Persian in Xenophon to whom it was quite 
obvious that he must have two souls: for, said he, the same soul could not be at once good and 
bad— it could not desire simultaneously noble actions and base ones, will and not will to perform a 
particular act at a particular moment. [33] 

But Plato's fission of the empirical man into daemon and beast is perhaps not quite so 
inconsequent as it may appear to the modem reader. It reflects a similar fission in Plato's view of 
human nature: the gulf between the immortal and the mortal soul corresponds to the gulf between 
Plato's vision of man as he might be and his estimate of man as he is. What Plato had come to think of 
human life as it is actually lived, appears most clearly in the Laws . There he twice informs us that 
man is a puppet. Whether the gods made it simply as a plaything or for some serious purpose one 
cannot tell; all we know is that the creature is on a string, and its hopes and fears, pleasures and 
pains, jerk it about and make it dance. [34:| In a later passage the Athenian observes that it is a pity we 
have to take human affairs seriously, and remarks that man is God's plaything, "and that is really the 
best that can be said of him": men and women should accordingly make this play as charming as 
possible, sacrificing to the gods with music and dancing; "thus they will live out their lives in 
accordance with their nature, being puppets chiefly, and having in them only a small portion of 
reality." "You are making out our human race very mean," says the Spartan. And the Athenian 
apologises: "I thought of God, and I was moved to speak as I did just now. Well, if you will have it so, 
let us say that our race 



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is not mean— that it is worth taking a little bit seriously (<n rouifjs twos fijioj')."! 35 ] 

Plato suggests here a religious origin for this way of thinking; and we often meet it in later 
religious thinkers, from Marcus Aurelius to Mr. T. S. Eliot— who has said in almost the same words, 
"Human nature is able to endure only a very little reality." It agrees with the drift of much else in the 
Laws — with the view that men are as unfit to rule themselves as a flock of sheep, [36] that God, not 
man, is the measure of things , 137 - 1 that man is the gods’ property ( 

ktijijo 

),C 38 ] and that if he wishes to be happy, he should be 

Ta7rti>'&s 




, "abject," before God— a word which nearly all pagan writers, and Plato himself elsewhere, employ as 
a term of contempt. [39] Ought we to discount all this as a senile aberration, the sour pessimism of a 
tired and irritable old man? It might seem so: for it contrasts oddly with the radiant picture of the 
soul's divine nature and destiny which Plato painted in his middle dialogues and certainly never 
abjured. But we may recall the philosopher of the Republic , to whom, as to Aristotle's megalopsych, 
human life cannot appear important ( 

ftiya Tt 

); L40J we may remember that in the Meno the mass of men are likened to the shadows that flit in 
Homer's Hades, and that the conception of human beings as the chattels of a god appears already in 
the Phaedo . [41] We may think also of another passage in the Phaedo , where Plato predicts with 
undisguised relish the future of his fellow-men: in their next incarnation some of them will be donkeys, 
others wolves, while the 

itirpUH. 

, the respectable bourgeoisie, may look forward to becoming bees or ants. l4 ^ J No doubt this is partly. 
Plato's fun; but it is the sort of fun which Would have appealed to Jonathan Swift. It carries the 
implication that everybody except the philosopher is on the verge of becoming subhuman, which is (as 
ancient Platonists saw ) 143 - 1 hard to reconcile with the view that every human soul is essentially 
rational. 

In the light of these and other passages I think we have to recognise two strains or tendencies in 
Plato's thinking about the status of man. There is the faith and pride in human reason 



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which he inherited from the fifth century, and for which he found religious sanction by equating the 
reason with the occult self of shamanistic tradition. And there is the bitter recognition of human 
worthlessness which was forced upon him by his experience of contemporary Athens and Syracuse. 
This too could be expressed in the language of religion, as a denial of all value to the activities and 
interests of this world in comparison with "the things Yonder." A psychologist might say that the 
relation between the two tendencies was not one of simple opposition, but that the first became a 
compensation— or overcompensation— for the second: the less Plato cared for actual humanity, the 
more nobly he thought of the soul. The tension between the two was resolved for a time in the dream 
of a new Rule of the Saints, an elite of purified men who should unite the incompatible virtues of (to 
use Mr. Koestler's terms) the Yogi and the Commissar, and thereby save not only themselves but 
society. But when that illusion faded, Plato's underlying despair came more and more to the surface, 
translating itself into religious terms, until it found its logical expression in his final proposals for a 
completely "closed" society , 144 - 1 to be ruled not by the illuminated reason, but (under God) by custom 
and religious law. The "Yogi," with his faith in the possibility and necessity of intellectual conversion, 
did not. wholly vanish even now, but he certainly retreated before the "Commissar," whose problem is 
the conditioning of human cattle. On this interpretation the pessimism of the Laws is not a senile 
aberration: it is the fruit of Plato's personal experience of life, which in turn carried in it the seed of 
much later thought. [45] 

It is in the light of this estimate of human nature that we must consider Plato's final proposals for 
stabilising the Conglomerate. But before turning to that, I must say a word about his opinions on 
another aspect of the irrational soul which has concerned us in this book, namely, the importance 
traditionally ascribed to it as the source or channel of an intuitive insight. In this matter, it seems to 
me, Plato remained throughout his life faithful to the principles of his master. Knowledge, as dis- 



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tinct from true opinion, remained for him the affair of the intellect, which can justify its beliefs by 
rational argument. To the intuitions both of the seer and of the poet he consistently, refused the title 
of knowledge, not because he thought them necessarily groundless, but because their grounds could 
not be produced. [46] Hence Greek custom was right, he thought, in giving the last word in military 
matters to the commander-in-chief, as a trained expert, and not to the seers who accompanied him on 
campaign; in general, it was the task of rational judgement, to distinguish between the true 

seer and the charlatan. [47] In much the same way, the products of poetic intuition must be subject to 
the rational and moral censorship of the trained legislator. All that was in keeping with Socratic 
rationalism . [48 - 1 Nevertheless, as we have noticed, 49] Socrates had taken irrational intuition quite 
seriously, whether it expressed itself in dreams, in the inner voice of the "daemonion," or in the 
utterance of the Pythia. And Plato makes a great show of taking it seriously too. Of the 
pseudo-sciences of augury and hepatoscopy he permits himself to speak with thinly veiled 
contempt; [50] but "the madness that comes by divine gift," the madness that inspires the prophet or 




the poet, or purges men in the Corybantic rite— this, as we saw in an earlier chapter, is treated as if it 
were a real intrusion of the supernatural into human life. 

How far did Plato intend this way of talking to be taken au pied de la lettre? In recent years the 
question has been often raised, and variously answered; 151 - 1 but unanimity has not been reached, nor 
is it likely to be. I should be inclined myself to say three things about it: 

a ) That Plato perceived what he took to be a real and significant analogy between mediumship, 
poetic creation, and certain pathological manifestations of the religious consciousness, all three of 
which have the appearance of being "given" [523 ab extra ; 

b ) That the traditional religious explanations of these phenomena were, like much else in the 
Conglomerate, accepted 



- 218 - 



by him provisionally, not because he thought them finally adequate, but because no other language 
was available to express that mysterious "givenness"/ 533 



c ) That while he thus accepted (with whatever ironical reservations) the poet, the prophet, and 
the "Corybantic" as being in some sense channels 154 - 1 of divine or daemonic^ 553 grace, he nevertheless 
rated their activities far below those of the rational self/ 563 and held that they must be subject to the 
control and criticism of reason, since reason was for him no passive plaything of hidden forces, but an 
active manifestation of deity in man, a daemon in its own right. I suspect that, had Plato lived to-day, 
he would have been profoundly interested in the new depth-psychology, but appalled by the tendency 
to reduce the human reason to an instrument for rationalising unconscious impulses. 



Much of what I have said applies also to Plato's fourth type of "divine madness," the madness of 
Eros. Here too was a "given," something which happens to a man without his choosing it or knowing 
why— the work, therefore, of a formidable daemon/ 573 Here too— here, indeed, above al/ 583 —Plato 
recognised the operation of divine grace, and used the old religious language 1593 to express that 
recognition. But Eros has a special importance in Plato's thought as being the one mode of experience 
which brings together the two natures of man, the divine self and the tethered beast/ 603 For Eros is 
frankly rooted in what man shares with the animals/ 613 the physiological impulse of sex (a fact which 
is unfortunately obscured by the persistent modern misuse of the term "Platonic love"); yet Eros also 
supplies the dynamic impulse which drives the soul forward in its quest of a satisfaction transcending 
earthly experience. It thus spans the whole compass of human personality, and makes the one 
empirical bridge between man as he is and man as he might be. Plato in fact comes very close here to 
the Freudian concept of libido and sublimation. But he never, as it seems to me, fully integrated this 
line of thought with the rest of his philosophy; had he done so, the notion of the intellect as a self- 



- 219 - 

sufficient entity independent of the body might have been imperilled, and Plato was not going to risk 
that/ 623 

I turn now to Plato's proposals for reforming and stabilising the Inherited Conglomerate/ 633 They 
are set forth in his last work, the Laws , and may be briefly summarised as follows. 

1. He would provide religious faith with a logical foundation by proving certain basic propositions. 

2. He would give it a legal foundation by incorporating these propositions in an unalterable legal 
code, and imposing legal penalties on any person propagating disbelief in them. 

3. He would give it an educational foundation by making the basic propositions a compulsory 
subject of instruction for all children. 

4. He would give it a social foundation by promoting an intimate union of religious and civic life at 
all levels— as we should phrase it, a union of Church and State. 

It may be said that most of these proposals were designed merely to strengthen and generalise 
existing Athenian practice. But when we take them together we see that they represent the first 
attempt to deal systematically with the problem of controlling religious belief. The problem itself was 
new: in an age of faith no one thinks of proving that gods exist or inventing techniques to induce belief 
in them. And some of the methods proposed were apparently new: in particular, no one before Plato 
seems to have realised the importance of early religious training as a means of conditioning the future 
adult. Moreover, when we look more closely at the proposals themselves, it becomes evident that 
Plato was trying not only to stabilise but also to reforms not only to buttress the traditional structure 
but also to discard so much of it as was plainly rotten and replace it by something more durable. 

Plato's basic propositions are: 




a ) That gods exist; 

b ) That they are concerned with the fate of mankind; 
c ) That they cannot be bribed. 

The arguments by which he attempted to prove these state- 



- 220 - 

ments do not concern us here; they belong to the history of theology. But it is worth noticing some of 
the points on which he felt obliged to break with tradition, and some on which he compromised. 

Who, in the first place, are the gods whose existence Plato sought to prove and whose worship he 
sought to enforce? The answer is not free from ambiguity. As regards worship, a passage in Laws iv 
provides a completely traditional list— gods of Olympus, gods of the city, gods of the underworld, local 
daemons and heroes . [641 These are the conventional figures of public cult, the gods who, as he puts it 
elsewhere in the Laws , "exist according to customary usage . " [661 But are they the gods whose 
existence Plato thought he could prove? We have ground for doubting it. In the Cratylus he makes 
Socrates say that we know nothing about these gods, not even their true names, and in the Phaedrus , 
that we imagine a god {wK&rrofitP) without having seen one or formed any adequate idea of what he is 
like . [661 The reference in both passages is to mythological gods. And the implication seems to be that 
the cult of such gods has no rational basis, either empirical or metaphysical. Its level of validity is, at 
best, of the same order as that which Plato allows to the intuitions of the poet or the seer. 

The supreme god of Plato's personal faith was, I take it, a very different sort of being, one whom 
(in the words of the Timaeus ) "it is hard to find and impossible to describe to the masses . " [6/1 
Presumably Plato felt that such a god could not be introduced into the Conglomerate without 
destroying it; at any rate he abstained from the attempt. But there was one kind of god whom 
everyone could see, whose divinity could be recognised by the masses , 1 - 681 and about whom the 
philosopher could make, in Plato's opinion, logically valid statements. These "visible gods" were the 
heavenly bodies— or, more exactly, the divine minds by which those bodies were animated or 
controlled . 1 - 691 The great novelty in Plato's project for religious reform was the emphasis he laid, not 
merely on the divinity of sun, moon, and stars (for that was nothing new), but on their 



- 221 - 

cult. In the Laws , not only are the stars described as "the gods in heavens" the sun and moon as 
"great gods," but Plato insists that prayer and sacrifice shall be made to them by all ; 1701 and the focal 
point of his new State Church is to be a joint cult of Apollo and the sun-god Helios, to which the High 
Priest will be attached and the highest political officers will be solemnly dedicated. 711 This joint 
cult— in place of the expected cult of Zeus— expresses the union of old and new, Apollo standing for 
the traditionalism of the masses, and Helios for the new "natural religion" of the philosophers ; 1721 it is 
Plato's last desperate attempt to build a bridge between the intellectuals and the people, and thereby 
save the unity of Greek belief and of Greek culture. 

A similar mixture of necessary reform with necessary compromise may be observed in Plato's 
handling of his other basic propositions. In dealing with the traditional problem of divine justice, he 
firmly ignores not only the old belief in "jealous" gods , [731 but (with certain exceptions in religious 
law ) 1741 the old idea that the wicked man is punished in his descendants. That the doer shall suffer in 
person is for Plato a demonstrable law of the cosmos, which must be taught as an article of faith. The 
detailed working of the law is not, however, demonstrable: it belongs to the domain of "myth" or 
"incantation . " [761 His own final belief in this matter is set forth in an impressive passage of Laws 
x: [/o] the law of cosmic justice is a law of spiritual gravitation; in this life and in the whole series of 
lives every soul gravitates naturally to the company of its own kind, and therein lies its punishment or 
its reward; Hades, it is hinted, is not a place but a state of mind . [771 And to this Plato adds another 
warning, a warning which marks the transition from the classical to the Hellenistic outlook: if any man 
demands personal happiness from life, let him remember that the cosmos does not exist for his sake, 
but he for the sake of the cosmos. [/Sl All this, however, was above the head of the common man, as 
Plato well knew; he does not, if I understand him rightly, propose to make it part of the compulsory 
official creed. 



- 222 - 

On the other hand, Plato's third proposition— that the gods cannot be bribed— implied a more drastic 
interference with traditional belief and practice It involved rejecting the ordinary interpretation of 




sacrifice as an expression of gratitude for favours to come, "do ut des" a view which he had long ago 
stigmatised in the Euthyphro as the application to religion of a commercial technique (ipropiidi tu ri\vi} 
). [79:| But it seems plain that the great emphasis he lays on this point both in the Republic and in the 
Laws is due not merely to theoretical considerations; he is attacking certain widespread piactices which 
in his eyes constitute a threat to public morality. The "travelling priests and diviners" and purveyors of 
cathartic ritual who are denounced in a much-discussed passage of Republic ii, and again in the Laws 
,[8Q] are not , j think, merely those minor charlatans who in all societies prey upon the ignorant and 
superstitious. For they are said in both places to mislead whole cities, [81 ^ an eminence that minor 
charlatans seldom achieve. The scope of Plato's criticism is in my view wider than some scholars have 
been willing to admit: he is attacking, I believe, the entire tradition of ritual purification, so far as it 
was in the hands of private, "unlicensed" persons. 

This does not mean that he proposed to abolish ritual purification altogether. For Plato himself, the 
only truly effective catharsis was no doubt the practice of mental withdrawal and concentration which 
is described in the Phaedo : [83:| the trained philosopher could cleanse his own soul without the help of 
ritual. But the common man could not, and the faith in ritual catharsis was far too deeply rooted in the 
popular mind for Plato to propose its complete elimination. He felt, however, the need for something 
like a Church, and a canon of authorised rituals, if religion was to be prevented from running off the 
rails and becoming a danger to public morality. In the field of religion, as in that of morals, the great 
enemy which had to be fought was antinomian individualism; and he looked to Delphi to organise the 
defence. We need not assume that Plato believed the Pythia to be verbally inspired. My own guess 
would 



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be that his attitude to Delphi was more like that Of a modern "political Catholic" towards the Vatican: 
he saw in Delphi a great conservative force which could be harnessed to the task of stabilising the 
Greek religious tradition and checking both the spread of materialism and the growth of aberrant 
tendencies within the tradition itself. Hence his insistence, both in the Republic and in the Laws , that 
the authority of Delphi is to be absolute in all religious matters.® 84] Hence also the choice of Apollo to 
share with Helios the supreme position in the hierarchy of State cults: while Helios provides the few 
with a relatively rational form of worship, Apollo will dispense to the many, in regulated and harmless 
doses, the archaic ritual magic which they demand. [85] 

Of such legalised magic the Laws provides many examples, some of them startlingly primitive. For 
instance, an animal, or even an inanimate object, which has caused the death of a man, is to be tried, 
condemned, and banished beyond the frontiers of the State, because it carries a "miasma" or 
pollution . i3 °' i In this and many other matters Plato follows Athenian practice and Delphic authority. We 
need not suppose that he himself attached any value to proceedings of this kind; they were the price 
to be paid for harnessing Delphi and keeping superstition within bounds. 

It remains to say a few words about the sanctions by which Plato proposes to enforce acceptance 
of his reformed version of the traditional beliefs. Those who offend against it by speech or act are to 
be denounced to the courts, and, if found guilty, are to be 'given not less than five years' solitary 
confinement in a reformatory, where they will be subjected to intensive religious propaganda, but 
denied all other human intercourse; if this fails to cure them, they will be put to death J 87 - 1 Plato in 
fact wishes to revive the fifth-century heresy trials (he makes it plain that he would condemn 
Anaxagoras unless he mended his opinions); [88] all that is new is the proposed psychological 
treatment of the guilty. That the fate of Socrates did not warn Plato of the danger inherent in such 
measures may seem strange 



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indeed. [891 But he apparently felt that freedom of thought in religious matters involved so grave a 
threat to society that the measures had to be taken. "Heresy" is perhaps a misleading word to use in 
this connection. Plato's proposed theocratic State does in certain respects foreshadow the mediaeval 
theocracy. But the mediaeval Inquisition was chiefly concerned lest people should suffer in the next 
world for having held false opinions in this one; overtly, at any rate, it was trying to save souls at the 
expense of bodies. Plato's concern was quite different. He was trying to save society from 
contamination by dangerous thoughts, which in his view were visibly destroying the springs of social 
conduct. [90:| Any teaching which weakens the conviction that honesty is the best policy he feels 
obliged to prohibit as antisocial. The motives behind his legislation are thus practical and secular; in 
this respect the nearest historical analogue is not the Inquisition, but those trials of "intellectual 
deviationists" with which our own generation has become so familiar. 




Such, then, in brief, were Plato's proposals for reforming the Conglomerate. They were not carried 
out, and the Conglomerate was not reformed. But I hope that the next and final chapter will show why 
I have thought it worth while to spend time in describing them. 



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VIII 

The Fear of Freedom 

A man's worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes. 
T. H. HUXLEY 



I MUST begin this final chapter by making a confession. When the general idea of the lectures on 
which this book is based first formed itself in my mind, my notion was to illustrate the Greek attitude 
to certain problems over the whole stretch of time that lies between Homer and the last pagan 
Neoplatonists, a stretch about as long as that which separates antiquity from ourselves. But as 
material accumulated and the lectures got themselves written, it became evident that this could not be 
done, save at the price of a hopeless superficiality. Thus far I have in fact covered about one-third of 
the period in question, and even there I have left many gaps. The greater part of the story remains 
untold. All that I can now do is to look down a perspective of some eight centuries and ask myself in 
very general terms what changes took place in certain human attitudes, and for what reasons. I 
cannot hope in so brief a survey to arrive at exact or confident answers. But it will be something if we 
can get a picture of what the problems are, and can formulate them in the right terms. 

Our survey starts from an age when Greek rationalism appeared to be on the verge of final 
triumph, the great age of intellectual discovery that begins with the foundation of the Lyceum about 
335 B.C. and continues down to the end of the third century. This period witnessed the transformation 
of Greek science from an untidy jumble of isolated observations mixed with a priori guesses into a 
system of methodical disciplines. In the more 



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abstract sciences, mathematics and astronomy, it reached a level that was not to be attained again 
before the sixteenth century; and it made the first organised attempt at research in many other fields, 
botany, zoology, geography, and the history of language, of literature, and of human institutions. Nor 
was it only in science that the time was adventurous and creative. It is as if the sudden widening of 
the spatial horizon that resulted from Alexander's conquests had widened at the same time all the 
horizons of the mind. Despite its lack of political freedom, the society of the third century B.C. was in 
many ways the nearest approach to an "open" [1] society that the world had yet seen, and nearer than 
any that would be seen again until very modern times. The traditions and institutions of the old 
"closed" society were of course still there and still influential: the incorporation of a city-state in one or 
other of the Hellenistic kingdoms did not cause it to lose its moral importance overnight. But though 
the city was there, its walls, as someone has put it, were down: its institutions stood exposed to 
rational criticism; its traditional ways of life were increasingly penetrated and modified by a 
cosmopolitan culture. For the first time in Greek history, it mattered little where a man had been born 
or what his ancestry was: of the men who dominated Athenian intellectual life in this age, Aristotle and 
Theophrastus, Zeno, Cleanthes, and Chrysippus were all of them foreigners; only Epicurus was of 
Athenian stock, though by birth a colonial. 

And along with this levelling out of local determinants, this freedom of movement in space, there 
went an analogous levelling out of temporal determinants, a new freedom for the mind to travel 
backwards in time and choose at will from the past experience of men those elements which it could 
best assimilate and exploit. The individual began consciously to use the tradition, instead of being used 
by it. This is most obvious in the Hellenistic poets, whose position in this respect was like that of poets 
and artists to-day. "If we talk of tradition to- 



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day," says Mr. Auden, "we no longer mean what the eighteenth century meant, a way of working 
handed down from one generation to the next; we mean a consciousness of the whole of the past in 
the present. Originality no longer means a slight personal modification of one's immediate 
predecessors; it means the capacity to find in any other work of any date or locality clues for the 
treatment of one's own subject-matter . " [21 That this is true of most, if not all, Hellenistic poetry hardly 
needs proving: it explains both the strength and the weakness of works like the Argonautica of 
Apollonius or the Aetia of Callimachus. But we can apply it also to Hellenistic philosophy: Epicurus' use 
of Democritus and the Stoic use of Heraclitus are cases in point. As we shall find presently , 131 it has 
likewise some bearing on the field of religious beliefs. 

Certainly it is in this age that the Greek pride in human reason attains its most confident 
expression. We should reject, says Aristotle, the old rule of life that counselled humility, bidding man 
think in mortal terms (^rjra dpovtlv rdv dvrirdv)-, for man has within him a divine thing, the intellect, 
and so far as he can live on that level of experience, he can live as though he were not mortal . [41 The 
founder of Stoicism went further still: for Zeno, man's intellect was not merely akin to God, it was 
God, a portion of the divine substance in its pure or active state. > [51 And although Epicurus made no 
such claim, he yet held that by constant meditation on the truths of philosophy one could live "like a 
god among men." [6) 

But ordinary human living, of course, is not like that. Aristotle knew that no man can sustain the 
life of pure reason for more than very brief periods / 71 and he and his pupils appreciated, better 
perhaps than any other Greeks, the necessity of studying the irrational factors in behaviour if we are 
to reach a realistic understanding of human nature. I have briefly illustrated the sanity and subtlety of 
their approach to this kind of problem in dealing with the cathartic influence of music, and with the 
theory of dreams. Did circumstances permit, I should have liked to devote an entire chapter to 
Aristotle's treatment of the 



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Irrational; but the omission may perhaps be excused, since there exists an excellent short book, Mile 
Croissant's Aristote et les Mysteres , which deals in an interesting and thorough manner, not indeed 
with the whole subject, but with some of its most important aspects . [91 

Aristotle's approach to an empirical psychology, and in particular to a psychology of the Irrational, 
was unhappily carried no further after the first generation of his pupils. When the natural sciences 
detached themselves from the study of philosophy proper, as they began to do early in the third 
century, psychology was left in the hands of the philosophers (where it remained— I think to its 
detriment— down to very recent times). And the dogmatic rationalists of the Hellenistic Age seem to 
have cared little for the objective study of man as he is; their attention was concentrated on the 
glorious picture of man as he might be, the ideal sapiens or sage. In order to make the picture seem 
possible, Zeno and Chrysippus deliberately went back, behind Aristotle and behind Plato, to the naive 
intellectualism of the fifth century. The attainment of moral perfection, they said, was independent 
both of natural endowment and of habituation; it depended solely on the exercise of reason . [101 And 
there was no "irrational soul" for reason to contend with: the so-called passions were merely errors of 
judgement, or morbid disturbances resulting from errors of judgement. 111 Correct the erro??, and the 
disturbance will automatically cease, leaving a mind untouched by joy or sorrow, untroubled by hope 
or fear, "passionless, pitiless, and perfect. "t 121 

This fantastic psychology was adopted and maintained for two centuries, not on its merits, but 
because it was thought necessary to a moral system which aimed at combining altruistic action with 
complete inward detachment. [ 131 Posidonius, we know, rebelled against it and demanded a return to 
Plato , [141 pointing out that Chrysippus' theory conflicted both with observation, which showed the 
elements of character to be innate / 151 and with moral experience, which revealed irrationality and evil 
as ineradicably rooted in human nature and control- 



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lable only by some kind of "catharsis. " [16] But his protest did not avail to kill the theory; orthodox 
Stoics continued to talk in intellectualist terms, though perhaps with diminishing conviction. Nor was 
the attitude of Epicureans or of Sceptics very different in this matter. Both schools would have liked to 
banish the passions from human life; the ideal of both was ataraxia , freedom from disturbing 
emotions; and this was to be achieved in the one case by holding the right opinions about man and 
God, in the other by holding no opinions at all . [ 171 The Epicureans made the same arrogant claim as 
the Stoics, that without philosophy there can be no good ness [lt ’ J —a claim which neither Aristotle nor 
Plato ever made. 




This rationalist psychology and ethic was matched by a rationalised religion. For the philosopher, 
the essential part of religion lay no longer in acts of cult, but in a silent contemplation of the divine and 
in a realisation of man's kinship with it. The Stoic contemplated the starry heavens, and read there the 
expression of the same rational and moral purpose which he discovered in his own breast; the 
Epicurean, in some ways the more spiritual of the two, contemplated the unseen gods who dwell 
remote in the intermundia and thereby found strength to approximate his life to theirs. [19] For both 
schools, deity has ceased to be synonymous with arbitrary Power, and has become instead the 
embodiment of a rational ideal; the transformation was the work of the classical Greek thinkers, 
especially Plato. As Festugiere has rightly insisted , [2t>1 the Stoic religion is a direct inheritance from 
the Timaeus and the Laws , and even Epicurus is at times closer in spirit to Plato than he would have 
cared to acknowledge. 

At the same time, all the Hellenistic schools— even perhaps the Sceptics 121 - 1 — were as anxious as 
Plato had been to avoid a clean break with traditional forms of cult. Zeno indeed declared that temples 
were superfluous— God's true temple was the human intellect. [22] Nor did Chrysippus conceal his 
opinion that to represent gods in human shape was childish. [23] Nevertheless, Stoicism found room 
for the anthropomorphic gods by 



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treating them as allegorical figures or symbols ; 124 - 1 and when in the Hymn of Cleanthes we find the 
Stoic God decked out with the epithets and attributes of Homer's Zeus, this is more, I think, than a 
stylistic formality— it is a serious attempt to fill the old forms with a new meaning . [251 Epicurus too 
sought to keep the forms and purify their content. He was scrupulous, we are told, in observing all the 
usages of cult ,*- 26 - 1 but insisted that they must be divorced from all fear of divine anger or hope of 
material benefit; to him, as to Plato, the "do ut des" view of religion is the worst blasphemy . *- 271 

It would be unwise to assume that such attempts to purge the tradition had much effect on 
popular belief. As Epicurus said, "the things which I know, the multitude disapproves, and of what the 
multitude approves, I know nothing. " [2al Nor is it easy for us to know what the multitude approved in 
Epicurus' time. Then as now, the ordinary man became articulate about such things only, as a rule, 
upon his tombstone— and not always even there. Extant tombstones of the Hellenistic Age are less 
reticent than those of an earlier time, and suggest, for what they are worth, that the traditional belief 
in Hades is slowly fading, and begins to be replaced either by explicit denial of any Afterlife or else by 
vague hopes that the deceased has gone to some better world— "to the Isles of the Blessed," "to the 
gods," or even "to the eternal Kosmos ." 1291 I should not care to build very much on the latter type of 
epitaph: we know that the sorrowing relatives are apt to order "a suitable inscription" which does not 
always correspond to any actively held belief . 130 - 1 Still, taken as a whole, the tombstones do suggest 
that disintegration of the Conglomerate has gone a stage further. 

As for public or civic religion, we should expect it to suffer from the loss of civic autonomy: in the 
city-state, religion and public life were too intimately interlocked for either to decline without injury to 
the other. And that public religion had in fact declined pretty steeply at Athens in the half-century after 
Chaeronea we know from Hermocles' hymn to Demetrius 



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Poliorcetes : 1311 at no earlier period could a hymn sung on a great public occasion have declared that 
the gods of the city were either indifferent or nonexistent, and that these useless stocks and stones 
were now replaced by a "real" god, Demetrius himself . 132 - 1 The flattery may be insincere; the 
scepticism plainly is not, and it must have been generally shared; since we are told that the hymn was 
highly popular . [331 That Hellenistic ruler-worship was always insincere— that it was a political stunt and 
nothing more —no one, I think, will believe who has observed in our own day the steadily growing 
mass adulation of dictators, kings, and, in default of either, athletes. [34] When the old gods withdraw, 
the empty thrones cry out for a successor, and with good management, or even without 
management , [351 almost any perishable bag of bones may be hoisted into the vacant seat. So far as 
they have religious meaning for the individual, ruler-cult and its analogues, [36] ancient and modem, 
are primarily, I take it, expressions of helpless dependence; he who treats another human being as 
divine thereby assigns to himself the relative status of a child or an animal. It was, I think, a related 
sentiment that gave rise to another characteristic feature of the Early Hellenistic Age, the wide 
diffusion of the cult of Tyche, "Luck" or "Fortune." Such a cult is, as Nilsson has said, "the last stage in 
the secularising of religion "; 1 - 371 in default of any positive object, the sentiment of dependence 
attaches itself to the purely negative idea of the unexplained and unpredictable, which is Tyche. 

I do not want to give a false impression of a complex situation by oversimplifying it. Public worship 




of the city gods of course continued; it was an accepted part of public life, an accepted expression of 
civic patriotism. But it would, I think, be broadly true to say of it what has been said of Christianity in 
our own time, that it had become "more or less a social routine, without influence on goals of 
living. "t 38 ^ On the other hand, the progressive decay of tradition set the religious man free to choose 
his own gods, [39] very much as it set the poet free to choose his own style; and the anonymity and 
loneliness of 



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life in the great new cities, where the individual felt himself a cipher, may have enforced on many the 
sense of need for some divine friend and helper. The celebrated remark of Whitehead, that "religion is 
what the individual does with his own solitariness, " [40:| whatever one may think of it as a general 
definition, describes fairly accurately the religious situation from Alexander's time onwards. And one 
thing that the individual did with his solitariness in this age was to form small private clubs devoted to 
the worship of individual gods, old or new. Inscriptions tell us something of the activities of such 
"Apolloniasts" or "Hermaists" or "Iobacchi" or "Sarapiasts," but we cannot see far into their minds. All 
we can really say is that these associations served both social and religious purposes, in unknown and 
probably varying proportions: some may have been little more than dining-clubs; others may have 
given their members a real sense of community with a divine patron or protector of their own choice, 
to replace the inherited local community of the old closed society. [41] 

Such, in the broadest outline, were the relations between religion and rationalism in the third 
century. [42 -* Looking at the picture as a whole, an intelligent observer in or about the year 200 B.C. 
might well have predicted that within a few generations the disintegration of the inherited structure 
would be complete, and that the perfect Age of Reason would follow. He would, however, have been 
quite wrong on both points— as similar predictions made by nineteenth-century rationalists look like 
proving wrong. It would have surprised our imaginary Greek rationalist to learn that half a millennium 
after his death Athena would still be receiving the periodic gift of a new dress from her grateful 
people; 143 - 1 that bulls would still be sacrificed in Megara to heroes killed in the Persian Wars eight 
hundred years earlier; 144 - 1 that ancient taboos concerned with ritual purity would still be rigidly 
maintained in many places. [45 -* For the vis inertiae that keeps this sort of thing going— what Matthew 
Arnold once called "the extreme slowness of things" [46] —no rationalist ever makes sufficient 
allowance. Gods withdraw. 



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but their rituals live on, and no one except a few intellectuals notices that they have ceased to mean 
anything. In a material sense the Inherited Conglomerate did not in the end perish by disintegration; 
large portions of it were left standing through the centuries, a familiar, shabby, rather lovable fagade, 
until one day the Christians pushed the facade over and discovered that there was virtually nothing 
behind it— only a faded local patriotism and an antiquarian sentiment. [47:| So, at least, it happened in 
the cities; it appears that to the country folk, the pagani , certain of the old rites still did mean 
something, as indeed a few of them, in a dim half-comprehended manner, still do. 

A prevision of this history would have surprised an observer in the third century B.C. But it would 
have surprised him far more painfully to learn that Greek civilisation was entering, not on the Age of 
Reason, but on a period of slow intellectual decline which was to last, with some deceptive rallies and 
some brilliant individual rear-guard actions, down to the capture of Byzantium by the Turks; that in all 
the sixteen centuries of existence still awaiting it the Hellenic world would produce no poet as good as 
Theocritus, no scientist as good as Eratosthenes, no mathematician as good as Archimedes, and that 
the one great name in philosophy would represent a point of view believed to be 
extinct— transcendental Platonism. 

To understand the reasons for this long-drawn-out decline is one of the major problems of world 
history. We are concerned here with only one aspect of it, what may be called for convenience the 
Return of the Irrational. But even that is so big a subject that I can only illustrate what I have in mind 
by pointing briefly to a few typical developments. 

We saw in an earlier chapter how the gap between the beliefs of the intellectuals and the beliefs of 
the people, already discernible in the oldest Greek literature, widened in the late fifth century to 
something approaching a complete divorce, and how the growing rationalism of the intellectuals was 
matched by regressive symptoms in popular belief. In the relatively 



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"open" Hellenistic society, although the divorce was on the whole maintained, rapid changes in social 
stratification, and the opening of education to wider classes, created more opportunities of interaction 
between the two groups. We have noticed evidence that in third-century Athens a scepticism once 
confined to intellectuals had begun to infect the general population; and the same thing was to happen 
later at Rome. 148 - 1 But after the third century a different kind of interaction shows itself, with the 
appearance of a pseudo-scientific literature, mostly pseudonymous and often claiming to be based on 
divine revelation, which took up the ancient superstitions of the East or the more recent phantasies of 
the Hellenistic masses, dressed them in trappings borrowed from Greek science or Greek philosophy, 
and won for them the acceptance of a large part of the educated class. Assimilation henceforth works 
both ways: while rationalism, of a limited and negative kind, continues to spread from above 
downwards, antirationalism spreads from below upwards, and eventually wins the day. 

Astrology is the most familiar example/ 49 - 1 It has been said that it "fell upon the Hellenistic mind 
as a new disease fails upon some remote island people. " [50 - 1 But the comparison does not quite fit the 
facts, so far as they are known. Invented in Babylonia, it spread to Egypt, where Herodotus appears to 
have met with it/ 511 In the fourth century, Eudoxus reported its existence in Babylonia, along with the 
achievements of Babylonian astronomy; but he viewed it with scepticism/ 52 - 1 and there is no evidence 
that it was taken up, although in the Phaedrus myth Plato amused himself by playing his own variation 
on an astrological theme/ 53 - 1 About 280 B.C. more detailed information was made available to Greek 
readers in the writings of the Babylonian priest Berossus, without (it would seem) causing any great 
excitement. The real vogue of astrology seems to start in the second century B.C. , when a number of 
popular manuals— especially one composed in the name of an imaginary Pharaoh, the Revelations of 
Nechepso and Petosiris 154 - 1 —began to circulate widely, and practising 



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astrologers appeared as far afield as Rome. 1551 Why did it occur then and not sooner? The idea was by 
then no novelty, and the intellectual ground for its reception had long been prepared in the astral 
theology which was taught alike by Platonists, Aristotelians, and Stoics, though Epicurus warned the 
world of its dangers/ 56 ^ One may guess that its spread was favoured by political conditions: in the 
troubled half-century that preceded the Roman conquest of Greece it was particularly important to 
know what was going to happen. One may guess also that the Babylonian Greek who at this time 
occupied the Chair of Zeno [57] encouraged a sort of "trahison des clercs" (the Stoa had already used 
its influence to kill the heliocentric hypothesis of Aristarthus which, if accepted, would have upset the 
foundations both of astrology and of Stoic religion). [58] But behind such immediate causes we may 
perhaps suspect something deeper and less conscious: for a century or more the individual had been 
face to face with his own intellectual freedom, and now he turned tail and bolted from the horrid 
prospect— better the rigid determinism of the astrological Fate than that terrifying burden of daily 
responsibility. Rational men like Panaetius and Cicero tried to check the retreat by argument, as 
Plotinus was to do later, 159 - 1 but without perceptible effect; certain motives are beyond the reach of 
argument. 

Besides astrology, the second century B.C. saw the development of another irrational doctrine 
which deeply influenced the thought of later antiquity and the whole Middle Age— the theory of occult 
properties or forges immanent in certain animals, plants, and precious stones. Though its beginnings 
are probably much older, this was first systematically set forth by one Bolus of Mendes, called "the 
Democritean," who appears to have written about 200 B.C. [60] His system was closely linked with 
magical medicine and with alchemy; it was also soon combined with astrology, to which it formed a 
convenient supplement. The awkward thing about the stars had always been their inaccessibility, alike 
to prayer and to magic. [61] But if each planet had its representative in the animal, vegetable, 



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and mineral kingdoms, linked to it by an occult "sympathy," as was now asserted, one could get at 
them magically by manipulating these earthly counterparts. [62] Resting as they did on the primitive 
conception of the world as a magical unity. Bolus' ideas were fatally attractive to the Stoics, who 
already conceived the cosmos as an organism whose parts had community of experience (avfnradua. 
) [63] From the first century B.C. onwards begins begins to be quoted as a scientific authority 
comparable in status with Aristotle and Theophrastus/ 64 - 1 and his doctrines become incorporated in 
the generally accepted world picture. 

Many students of the subject have seen in the first century B.C. the decisive period of Weltwende , 
the period when the tide of rationalism, which for the past hundred years had flowed ever more 
sluggishly, has finally expended its force and begins to retreat. There is no doubt that all the 




philosophical schools save the Epicurean took a new direction at this time. The old religious dualism of 
mind and matter, God and Nature, the soul and the appetites, which rationalist thought had striven to 
overcome, reasserts itself in fresh forms and with a fresh vigour. In the new unorthodox Stoicism of 
Posidonius this dualism appears as a tension of opposites within the unified cosmos and unified human 
nature of the old Stoa. 165] About the same time an internal revolution in the Academy puts an end to 
the purely critical phase in the development of Platonism, makes it once more a speculative 
philosophy, and sets it on the road that will lead eventually to Plotinus. 166] Equally significant is the 
revival, after two centuries of apparent abeyance, of Pythagoreanism, not as a formal teaching school, 
but as a cult and as a way of life . 167 - 1 It relied frankly on authority, not on logic: Pythagoras was 
presented as an inspired Sage, the Greek counterpart of Zoroaster or Ostanes, and numerous 
apocrypha were fathered on him or on his immediate disciples. What was taught in his name was the 
old belief in a detachable magic self, in the world as a place of darkness and penance, and in the 
necessity of catharsis; but this was now combined with ideas 



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derived from astral religion (which had in fact certain links with old Pythagoreanism ), 168:1 from Plato 
(who was represented as a Pythagorean), from the occultism of Bolus, 169 ^ and from other forms of 
magical tradition . 170 - 1 

All these developments are perhaps symptoms, rather than causes, of a general change in the 
intellectual climate of the Mediterranean world— something whose nearest historical analogue may be 
the romantic reaction against rationalist "natural theology" which set in at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century and is still a powerful influence to-day . 171 - 1 The adoration of the visible cosmos, 
and the sense of unity with it which had found expression in early Stoicism, began to be replaced in 
many minds 172 - 1 by a feeling that the physical world— at any rate the part of it below the moon— is 
under the sway of evil powers, and that what the soul needs is not unity with it but escape from it. The 
thoughts of men were increasingly preoccupied with techniques of individual salvation, some relying on 
holy books allegedly discovered in Eastern temples or dictated by the voice of God to some inspired 
prophet , 173 - 1 others seeking a personal revelation by oracle, dream, or waking vision ; 174 - 1 others again 
looking for security in ritual, whether by initiation in one or more of the now numerous "mysteria" or 
by employing the services of a private magician . 175 - 1 There was a growing demand for occultism, which 
is essentially an attempt to capture the Kingdom of Heaven by material means —it has been well 
described as "the vulgar form of transcendentalism. " [/o] And philosophy followed a parallel path on a 
higher level. Most of the schools had long since ceased to value the truth for its own sake , 177 - 1 but in 
the Imperial Age they abandon, with certain exceptions , 1783 any pretence of disinterested curiosity 
and present themselves frankly as dealers in salvation. It is not only that the philosopher conceives his 
lecture-room as a dispensary for sick souls ; 1791 in principle, that was nothing new. But the philosopher 
is not merely a psychotherapist; he is also, as Marcus Aurelius put it, "a kind of priest and minister of 
the gods ," 1801 and his teachings claim to have religious rather than 



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scientific worth. "The aim of Platonism," says a Christian observer in the second century A.D. , "is to 
see God face to face ."" 81 - 1 And profane knowledge was valued only so far as it contributed to such 
aims. Seneca, for example, quotes with approval the view that we should not trouble to investigate 
things that it is neither possible nor useful to know, such as the cause of the tides or the principle of 
perspective . 1 821 In such sayings we already feel the intellectual climate of the Middle Ages. It is the 
climate in which Christianity grew up; it made the triumph of the new religion possible, and it left its 
mark on Christian teaching ; 183 - 1 but it was not created by Christians. 

What, then, did create it? One difficulty in the way of attempting any answer at the present time is 
the lack of a comprehensive and balanced survey 'of all the relevant facts which might help us to grasp 
the relationship between the trees and the wood. We have brilliant studies of many individual trees, 
though not of all; but of the wood we have only impressionistic sketches. When the second volume of 
Nilsson's Geschichte appears , 184 - 1 when Nock has published his long-awaited Gifford Lectures on 
Hellenistic Religion, and when Festugiere has completed the important series of studies in the history 
of religious thought misleadingly entitled La Revelation d'Hermes Trismegiste , 185:1 the ordinary 
nonspecialist like myself may be in a better position to make up his mind; meanwhile he had better 
abstain from snap judgements. I should like, however, to conclude by saying a word about some 
suggested explanations of the failure of Greek rationalism. 

Certain of these merely restate the problem which they claim to solve. It is not helpful to be told 
that the Greeks had become decadent, or that the Greek mind had succumbed to Oriental influences. 




unless we are also told why this happened. Both statements may be true in some sense, though I 
think the best scholars to-day would hesitate to accord to either the unqualified acceptance which was 
usual in the last century. [S6] But even if true, such sweeping assertions will not advance matters until 
the nature and causes of the alleged 



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degeneration are made clear. Nor shall I be content to accept the fact of racial interbreeding as a 
sufficient explanation until it is established either that cultural attitudes are transmitted in the 
germ-plasm or that cross-bred strains are necessarily inferior to "pure" ones . 187 - 1 

If we are to attempt more precise answers, we must try to be sure that they really square with the 
facts and are not dictated solely by our own prejudices. This is not always done. When a well-known 
British scholar assures me that "there can be little doubt that the over-specialisation of science and the 
development of popular education in the Hellenistic Age led to the decline of mental activity,"* 88] I 
fear he is merely projecting into the past his personal diagnosis of certain contemporary ills. The sort 
of specialisation we have to-day was quite unknown to Greek science at any period, and some of the 
greatest names at all periods are those of nonspecialists, as may be seen if you look at a list of the 
works of Theophrastus or Eratosthenes, Posidonius, Galen, or Ptolemy. And universal education was 
equally unknown: there is a better case for the view that Hellenistic thought suffered from too little 
popular education rather than too much. 

Again, some favourite sociological explanations have the drawback of not quite fitting the historical 
facts. I - 89 - 1 Thus the loss of political freedom may have helped to discourage intellectual enterprise, but 
it was hardly the determining factor; for the great age of rationalism, from the late fourth to the late 
third century, was certainly not an age of political freedom. Nor is it quite easy to put the whole blame 
on war and economic impoverishment. There is indeed some evidence that such conditions do favour 
an increased resort to magic and divination 190 - 1 (very recent examples are the vogue of spiritualism 
during and after the First World War, of astrology during and after the Second), 1:1 and I am willing to 
believe that the disturbed conditions of the first century B.C. helped to start the direct retreat from 
reason, while those of the third century A.D. helped to make it final. But if this were the only force at 



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work, we should expect the two intervening centuries— an exceptionally long period of domestic peace, 
personal security, and, on the whole, decent government— to show a reversal of this tendency instead 
of its gradual accentuation. 

Other scholars have emphasised the internal breakdown of Greek rationalism. It "wasted away," 
says Nilsson, "as a fire burns itself out for lack of fuel. While science ended in fruitless logomachies 
and soulless compilations, the religious will to believe got fresh vitality. " [92] As Festugiere puts it, "on 
avait trop discute, on etait las des mots. II ne restait que la technique. " [93:| To a modern ear the 
description has a familiar and disquieting ring, but there is much ancient evidence to support it. If we 
go on to ask why fresh fuel was lacking, the answer of both authors is the old one, that Greek science 
had failed to develop the experimental method. [94] And if we ask further why it failed to do so, we are 
usually told that the Greek habit of mind was deductive— which I do not find very illuminating. Here 
Marxist analysis has hit on a cleverer answer: experiment failed to develop because there was no 
serious technology; there was no serious technology because human labour was cheap; human labour 
was cheap because slaves were abundant. [95:| Thus by a neat chain of inference the rise of the 
mediaeval world-view is shown to depend on the institution of slavery. Some of its links, I suspect, 
may need testing; but this is a task for which I am not qualified. I will, however, venture to make two 
rather obvious comments. One is that the economic argument explains better the stagnation of 
mechanics after Archimedes than it does the stagnation of medicine after Galen or of astronomy after 
Ptolemy. The other is that the paralysis of scientific thought in general may very well account for the 
boredom and restlessness of the intellectuals, but what it does not so well account for is the new 
attitude of the masses. The vast majority of those who turned to astrology or magic, the vast majority 
of the devotees of Mithraism or Christianity, were evidently not the sort of people to whom the 
stagnation of science was a direct and conscious concern; and I find it 



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hard to be certain that their religious outlook would have been fundamentally different even if some 
scientist had changed their economic lives by inventing the steam engine. 

If future historians are to reach a more complete explanation of what happened, I think that, 




without ignoring either the intellectual or the economic factor, they will have to take account of 
another sort of motive, less conscious and less tidily rational. I have already suggested that behind the 
acceptance of astral determinism there lay, among other things, the fear of freedom —the unconscious 
flight from the heavy burden of individual choice which an open society lays upon its members. If such 
a motive is accepted as a vera causa (and there is pretty strong evidence that it is a vera causa 
to-day), [96] we may suspect its operation in a good many places. We may suspect it in the hardening 
of philosophical speculation into quasi-religious dogma which provided the individual with an 
unchanging rule of life; in the dread of inconvenient research expressed even by a Cleanthes or an 
Epicurus; later, and on a more popular level, in the demand for a prophet or a scripture; and more 
generally, in the pathetic reverence for the written word characteristic of late Roman and mediaeval 
times— a readiness, as Nock puts it, "to accept statements because they were in books, or even 
because they were said to be in books. " [97:| 

When a people has travelled as far towards the open society as the Greeks had by the third 
century B.C. , such a retreat does not happen quickly or uniformly. Nor is it painless for the individual. 
For the refusal of responsibility in any sphere there is always a price to be paid, usually in the form of 
neurosis. And we may find collateral evidence that the fear of freedom is not a mere phrase in the 
increase of irrational anxieties and the striking manifestations of neurotic guilt-feeling observable in 
the later [ ~' SJ stages of the retreat, These things were not new in the religious experience of the 
Greeks: we encountered them in studying the Archaic Age. But the centuries of rationalism had 
weakened their social influence and thus, indirectly, their power over the individual. Now they show 
themselves in new 



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forms and with a new intensity. I cannot here go into the evidence; but we can get some measure of 
the change by comparing the "Superstitious Man" of Theophrastus, who is hardly more than an 
old-fashioned observer of traditional taboos, with Plutarch's idea of a superstitious man as one who 
"sits in a public place clad in sackcloth or filthy rags, or wallows naked in the mire, proclaiming what 
he calls his sins ." [991 Plutarch's picture of religious neurosis can be amplified from a good many other 
sources: striking individual documents are Lucian's portrait of Peregrinus, who turned from his sins 
first to Christianity, then to pagan philosophy, and after a spectacular suicide became a 
miracle-working pagan saint ; 11001 and the self-portrait of another interesting neurotic, Aelius 
Aristides . [1011 Again, the presence of a diffused anxiety among the masses shows itself clearly, not 
only in the reviving dread of postmortem punishments ^ 1021 but in the more immediate terrors 
revealed by extant prayers and amulets . [l031 Pagan and Christian alike prayed in the later Imperial 
Age for protection against invisible perils— against the evil eye and daemonic possession, against "the 
deceiving demon" or "the headless dog ." 110 * 1 One amulet promises protection "against every malice of 
a frightening dream or of beings in the air"; a second, "against enemies, accusers, robbers, terrors, 
and apparitions in dreams"; a third— a Christian one— against "unclean spirits" hiding under your bed 
or in the rafters or even in the rubbish-pit. [ 1051 The Return of the Irrational was, as may be seen from 
these few examples, pretty complete. 

There I must leave the problem. But I will not end this book without making a further confession. I 
have purposely been sparing in the use of modern parallels, for I know that such parallels mislead 
quite as often as they illuminate . [1061 But as a man cannot escape from his own shadow, so no 
generation can pass judgement on the problems of history without reference, conscious or 
unconscious, to its own problems. And I will not pretend to hide from the reader that in writing these 
chapters, and especially this last one, I have had our own 



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situation constantly in mind. We too have witnessed the slow disintegration of an inherited 
conglomerate, starting among the educated class but now affecting the masses almost everywhere, 
yet still very far from complete. We too have experienced a great age of rationalism, marked by 
scientific advances beyond anything that earlier times had thought possible, and confronting mankind 
with the prospect of a society more open than any it has ever known. And in the last forty years we 
have also experienced something else— the unmistakable symptoms of a recoil from that prospect. It 
would appear that, in the words used recently by Andre Malraux, "Western civilisation has begun to 
doubt its own credentials . " [1071 

What is the meaning of this recoil, this doubt? Is it the hesitation before the jump, or the 
beginning of a panic flight? I do not know. On such a matter a simple professor of Greek is in no 
position to offer an opinion. But he can do one thing. He can remind his readers that once before a 




civilised people rode to this jump— rode to it and refused it. And he can beg them to examine all the 
circumstances of that refusal. 

Was it the horse that refused, or the rider? That is really the crucial question. Personally, I believe 
it was the horse— in other words, those irrational elements in hum aft nature which govern without our 
knowledge so much of our behaviour and so much of what we think is our thinking. And if I am right 
about this, I can see in it grounds for hope. As these chapters have, I trust, shown, the men who 
created the first European rationalism were never— until the Hellenistic Age— "mere" rationalists: that 
is to say, they were deeply and imaginatively aware of the power, the wonder, and the peril of the 
Irrational. But they could describe what went on below the threshold of consciousness only in 
mythological or symbolic language; they had no instrument for understanding it, still less for 
controlling it; and in the Hellenistic Age too many of them made the fatal mistake of thinking they 
could ignore it. Modern man, on the other hand, is beginning to acquire such an instrument. It is still 
very far from perfect, nor is it always skilfully handled; in 



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many fields, including that of history, [ 1083 its possibilities and its limitations have still to be tested. Yet 
it seems to offer the hope that if we use it wisely we shall eventually understand our horse better; 
that, understanding him better, we shall be able by better training to overcome his fears; and that 
through the overcoming of fear horse and rider will one day take that decisive jump, and take it 
successfully. 



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Appendix I 
Maenadism 



"IN ART , as well as in poetry, the representation of these wild states of enthusiasm was apparently 
due to the imagination alone, for in prose literature we have very little evidence, in historic times, of 
women actually holding revels 11 - 1 in the open air. Such a practice would have been alien to the spirit of 
seclusion which pervaded the life of womankind in Greece.... The festivals of the Thyiads were mainly 
confined to Parnassus." Thus Sandys in the introduction to his justly admired edition of the Bacchae . 
Diodorus, on the other hand, tells us (4-3) that "in many Greek states congregations ( 

0axx*ioL 

) of women assemble every second year, and the unmarried girls are allowed to carry the thyrsus and 
share the transports of the elders ( 

(rvpet'lftwtafcu' 

)." And since Sandys’s day inscriptional evidence from various parts of the Greek world has confirmed 
Diodorus’ statement. We know now that such biennial festivals ( 

Tpt<Tjjp;s« 

) existed at Thebes, Opus, Melos, Pergamum, Priene, Rhodes; and they are attested for Alea in Arcadia 
by Pausanias, for Mitylene by Aelian, for Crete by Firmicus Maternus. ^ Their character may have 
varied a good deal from place to place, but we can hardly doubt that they normally included women's 

bpyia 

of the ecstatic or quasi-ecstatic type described by Diodorus, and that these often, if not always, 
involved nocturnal 

optifiaoia 

or mountain dancing. This strange rite, described in the Bacchae and practised by women's societies at 
the Delphic 

TpitTTIp'lt 

down to Plutarch's time, was certainly practised elsewhere also: at Miletus the priestess of Dionysus 
still "led the women to the mountain" in late Hellenistic times; at Erythrae the title 

MipavTofi&TTii 



points to an 

on Mount Mimas. Dionysus himself is 
(Festus, p. 182), 



ipfi&aaia 

iptios 

bptipA- 



These pages originally formed part of an article published in the Harvard Theological Review , Vol. 33 (1940). They are reprinted here with a few 




corrections and additions. I am indebted to Professor A.D. Nock, Dr. Rudolf Pfeiffer, and others for valuable criticisms. 



- 271 - 

(Tryph. 370), 6p&moj, ovptoifairrit (Anth. Pal . 9.524); and Strabo in discussing Dionysiac and other 
related mystery-cults speaks quite generally of T « ipn^aalas ruv rtpl rd Btlov <nrovBa^6vro>v (10.3.23). The 
oldest literary allusion is in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter , 386: #*T ivurix 6pos uarA &&9<uov uXp* 

The Apei^aaia took place at night in midwinter, and must have involved great discomfort and some 
risk: Pausanias 15 - 1 says that at Delphi the women went to the very summit of Parnassus (which is over 
8,000 feet high), and Plutarch 1 - 6 - 1 describes an occasion, apparently in his own lifetime, when they 
were cut off by a snowstorm and a rescue party had to be sent out— when they returned, their clothes 
were frozen as stiff as boards. What was the object of this practice? Many people dance to make their 
crops grow, by sympathetic magic. But such dances elsewhere are annual like the crops, not biennial 
like the 6/>fi/3a<na; their season is spring, not midwinter; and their scene is the cornland, not the barren 
mountaintops. Late Greek welters thought of the dances at Delphi as commemorative: they dance, 
says Diodorus (4-3), "in imitation of the maenads who are said to have been associated with the god 
in the old days." Probably he is right, as regards his own time; but ritual is usually older than the myth 
by which people explain it, and has deeper psychological roots. There must have been a time when the 
maenads or thyiads or really became for a few hours or days what their name implies— wild 

women whose human personality has been temporarily replaced by another. Whether this might still 
be so in Euripides' day we have no sure means of knowing; a Delphic tradition recorded by Plutarch [7] 
suggests that the rite sometimes produced a true disturbance of personality as late as the fourth 
century, but the evidence is very slender, nor is the nature of the change at all clear. There are, 
however, parallel phenomena in other cultures which may help us to understand the v&poSos of the 
Bacchae and the punishment of Agave. 

In many societies, perhaps in all societies, there are people for whom, as Mr. Aldous Huxley puts 
it, "ritual dances provide a religious experience that seems more satisfying and convincing than any 
other.... It is with their muscles that they most easily obtain knowledge of the divine. " [33 Mr. Huxley 
thinks that Christianity made a mistake when it allowed the dance to become completely 
secularised, [9:| since, in the words of a Mohammedan sage, "he that knows the Power of the Dance 
dwells in God." But the Power of the Dance 



- 272 - 

is a dangerous power. Like other forms of self-surrender, it is easier to begin than to stop. In the 
extraordinary dancing madness which periodically invaded Europe from the fourteenth to the 
seventeenth century, people danced until they dropped— like the dancer at Bacchae 136 or the dancer 
on a Berlin, vase, no. 2471 [10 - 1 —and lay unconscious, trodden underfoot by their fellows. [11] Also 
the thing is highly infectious. As Pentheus observes at Bacchae 778, it spreads like wildfire. The will to 
dance takes possession of people without the consent of the con scious mind: e.g., at Liege in 1374, 
after certain possessed folk had come dancing half-naked into the town with garlands on their heads, 
dancing in the name of St. John, we are told that "many persons seemingly sound in mind and body 
were suddenly possessed by the devils and joined the dancers"; these persons left house and home, 
like the Theban women in the play; even young girls cut themselves off from their family and friends 
and wandered away with the dancers. [12 - 1 Against a similar mania in seventeenth-century Italy 
"neither youth nor age," it is said, "afforded any protection; so that even old men of ninety threw 
aside their crutches at the sound of the tarantella, and as if some magic potion, restorative of youth 
and vigour, flowed through their veins, they joined the most extravagant dancers." [13] The 
Cadmus-Teiresias scene of the Bacchae was thus, it would appear, frequently reenacted, justifying the 
poet's remark (206 ff.) that Dionysus imposes no age limit. Even sceptics were sometimes, like Agave, 
infected with the mania against their will, and contrary to their professed belief. 114 - 1 In Alsace it was 
held in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that the dancing madness could be imposed on a victim by 
cursing him with it. 1 - 15 -* In some cases the compulsive obsession reappeared at regular intervals, 
growing in intensity until St. John's or St. Vitus' day, when an outbreak occurred and was followed by 
a return to normality; [16] while in Italy the periodic "cure" of afflicted patients by music and ecstatic 
dancing seems to have developed into an annual festival. [17] 

This last fact suggests the way in which in Greece the ritual oreibasia at a fixed date may originally 
have developed out of spontaneous attacks of mass hysteria. By canalising such hysteria in an 
organised rite once in two years, the Dionysiac cult kept it within bounds and gave it a relatively 
harmless outlet. What the wApoSoj of the Bacchae depicts is hysteria subdued to the service of religion; 
what happened on Mount Cithaeron was hysteria in the raw, the 




- 273 - 

dangerous Bacchism [181 which descends as a punishment on the too respectable and sweeps them 
away against their will. Dionysus is present in both: like St. John or St. Virus, he is the cause of 
madness and the liberator from madness, and Awrios. [19:i We must keep this ambivalence in 

mind if we are rightly to understand the play. To resist Dionysus is to repress the elemental in one's 
own nature; the punishment is the sudden complete collapse of the inward dykes when the elemental 
breaks through perforce and civilisation vanishes. 

There are, further, certain resemblances in points of detail between the orgiastic religion of the 
Bacchae and orgiastic religion elsewhere, which are worth noticing because they tend to establish that 
the "maenad" is a real, not a conventional figure, and one that has existed under different names at 
widely different times and places. The first concerns the flutes and tympana or kettledrums which 
accompany the maenad dance in the Bacchae and on Greek vases. [2o:i To the Greeks these were the 
"orgiastic" instruments par excellence : [21] they were used in all the great dancing cults, those of the 
Asiatic Cybele and the Cretan Rhea as well as that of Dionysus. They could cause madness, and in 
homoeopathic doses they could also cure it. And 2,000 years later, in the year 1518, when the 
crazy dancers of St. Virus were dancing through Alsace, a similar music— the music of drum and 
pipe— was used again for the same ambiguous purpose, to provoke the madness and to cure it: we 
still have the minute of the Strassburg Town Council on the subject. [23] That is certainly not tradition, 
probably not coincidence: it looks like the rediscovery of a real causal connection, of which to-day only 
the War Office and the Salvation Army retain some faint awareness. 

A second point is the carriage of the head in Dionysiac ecstasy. This is repeatedly stressed in the 
Bacchae : 150, "flinging his long hair to the sky"; 241, "I will stop you tossing back your hair"; 930, 
"tossing my head forwards and backwards like a bacchanal"; similarly elsewhere the possessed 
Cassandra "flings her golden locks when there blows from God the compelling wind of second-sight" 

(I .A . 758). The same trait appears in Aristophanes, Lysist . 1312, “rat and 

is constant, though less vividly described, in later writers: the maenads still "toss their heads" in 
Catullus, in Ovid, in Tacitus. [24] And we see this back-flung head and upturned throat in ancient works 
of art, e.g., the gems figured by Sandys, pages 58 and 73, or the maenad on the bas-relief in the 



- 274 - 

British Museum (Marbles II, pi. xiii, Sandys, p. 85). [25 -* But the gesture is not simply a convention of 
Greek poetry and art; at all times and everywhere it characterizes this particular type of religious 
hysteria. I take three independent modern descriptions: "the continual jerking their heads back, 
causing their long black hair to twist about, added much to their savage appearance"; [26] "their long 
hair was tossed about by the rapid to-and-fro movements of the head"' [2 '* "the head was tossed from 
side to side or thrown far back above a swollen and bulging throat. " [28 - 1 The first phrase is from a 
missionary's account of a cannibal dance in British Columbia which led up to the tearing asunder and 
eating of a human body; the second describes a sacral dance of goat-eaters in Morocco; the third is 
from a clinical description of possessive hysteria by a French doctor. 

Nor is this the only analogy which links these scattered types. The ecstatic dancers in Euripides 
"carried fire on their heads and it did not burn them" (757). [2S - 1 So does the ecstatic dancer 
elsewhere. In British Columbia he dances with glowing coals held in his hands, plays with them 
recklessly, and even puts them in his mouth; 138 - 1 so he does in South Africa; 131 - 1 and so also in 
Sumatra. 132:1 In Siam 133 - 1 and in Siberia 134 - 1 he claims to be invulnerable so long as the god remains 
within him— just as the dancers on Cithaeron were invulnerable (Ba . 761). And our European doctors 
have found an explanation or half-explanation in their hospitals; during his attacks the hysterical 
patient is often in fact analgesic— all sensitiveness to pain is repressed. [ 3 5:1 

An interesting account of the use, both spontaneous and curative, of ecstatic dancing and ecstatic 
music (trumpet, drum, and fife) in Abyssinia at the beginning of the nineteenth century is to be found 
in The Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce, written by himself during a Residence in Abyssinia 
from the years 1810 to 1819 , 1.290 ff. It has several points in common with Euripides' description. At 
the culminating moment of the dance the patient "made a start with such swiftness that the fastest 
runner could not come up with her [cf. Batch . 748, 1090], and when at a distance of about 200 yards 
she dropped on a sudden as if shot" (cf. Bacch . 136 and n. 11 below). Pearce's native wife, who 
caught the mania, danced and jumped "more like a deer than a human being" (cf. Bacch . 866 ff., 166 
ff.). Again, "I have seen them in these fits dance with a bruly, or bottle of maize, upon their heads 
without spilling the liquor, or letting the 




- 275 - 

bottle fall, although they have put themselves into the most extravagant postures" (cf. Bacch . 775 f., 
Nonnus, 45.294 ff.). 

The whole description of the maenads' raid on the Theban villages (Bacch . 748-764) corresponds 
to the known behaviour of comparable groups elsewhere. Among many peoples persons in abnormal 
states, whether natural or induced, are privileged to plunder the community: to interfere with their 
acts would be dangerous, since they are for the time being in contact with the supernatural. Thus in 
Liberia the novices who are undergoing initiation in the forest are licensed to raid and plunder 
neighbouring villages, carrying off everything they want; so also the members of secret societies in 
Senegal, the Bismarck Archipelago, etc., during the period when their rites have set them apart from 
the community. [36:| This state of affairs belongs no doubt to a stage of social organisation which 
fifth-century Greece had long outgrown; but legend or ritual may have preserved the memory of it, 
and Euripides may have encountered the actuality in Macedonia. An attenuated ritual survival is 
perhaps to be seen even to-day in the behaviour of the Viza mummers: "in general," says Dawkins, 
"anything lying about may be seized as a pledge to be redeemed, and the Koritzia [girls] especially 
carry off babies with this object. " [37] Are these girls the direct descendants of the baby-stealing 
maenads of Batch . 754 (who appear also in Nonnus and on vases )? [i33 

Another obviously primitive element is the snake-handling (Bacch . 101 ff., 698, 768). Euripides 
has not understood it, although he knows that Dionysus can appear as a snake (1017 f.). It is shown 
on vases, and after Euripides it becomes part of the conventional literary portrait of the maenad ; 139 - 1 
but it would seem that only in the more primitive cult of Sabazius ,* 40 - 1 and perhaps in Macedonian 
Bacchism , 141 - 1 was the living snake, as vehicle of the god, actually handled in ritual in classical 
times. * 42 * That such handling, even without any underlying belief in the snake's divinity, may be a 
powerful factor in producing religious excitement is shown by a curious recent account ,* 43 - 1 with 
photographs, of the rattlesnake ritual practised in the Holiness Church in remote mining villages in 
Leslie and Perry counties, Kentucky. According to this report the snake-handling (which is ostensibly 
based on Mark 16: 18, "They shall take up serpents") forms part of a religious service, and is preceded 
and accompanied by ecstatic dancing and followed by exhaustion. The snakes are taken from boxes 
and passed from hand to hand (apparently by both sexes); photographs show them held high 



- 276 - 

above the worshipper's head (cf. Demos, de cor . 259 vir ip rfjs K«t>a Xfjmupu'i) or dose to the face. "One 
man thrust one inside his shirt and caught it as it wriggled out before it could fall to the floor"— an 
oddly exact parallel to the ritual act of the Sabaziasts described by Clement and Arnobius ,* 44 - 1 and one 
which may lead us to hesitate before agreeing with Dieterich * 45 - 1 that the act in question "can signify 
absolutely nothing else than the sexual union of the god with the initiate"! 

It remains to say something of the culminating act of the Dionysiac winter dance, which was also 
the culminating act of the Columbian and Moroccan dances mentioned above the tearing to pieces, and 
swallowing raw, of an animal body, <rTap<07i6s and uMo^afia jh e gloating descriptions of this act in 
certain Christian Fathers may well be discounted, and it is hard to know how much weight to attach to 
the anonymous evidence of scholiasts and lexicographers on the subject; [46:| but that it still had some 
place in the Greek orgiastic ritual in classical times is attested not only by the respectable authority of 
Plutarch,* 47 * but by the regulations of the Dionysiac cult at Miletus in 276 B.C. ,* 48 * where we read 
firj tif-ivat u>vo<t>& yiov in&aXttv nijdtvi irportpoi'i) 17 itpua vtrip tt)s rbXthn fplia\ phrase <ppo<t>iyiot/ ififfaKtli' has 

puzzled scholars. I do not think that it means "to throw a sacrificial animal into a pit" (Wiegand, ad loc 
.) or "to throw a joint of beef into a sacred place" (Haussoulier, R.E.G . 32.266). A bloodier but more 
convincing picture is suggested by Ernest Thesiger's account of an annual rite which he witnessed in 
Tangier in 1907:* 49 * "A hill-tribe descends upon the town in a state of semi-starvation and drugged 
delirium. After the usual beating of tom-toms, screaming of the pipes and monotonous dancing, a 
sheep is thrown into the middle of the square, upon which all the devotees come to life and tear the 
animal limb from limb and eat it raw." The writer adds a story that "one year a Tangier Moor, who was 
watching the proceedings, got infected with the general frenzy of the crowd and threw his baby into 
the middle of them." Whether the last is true or not, the passage gives a clue to the meaning of 
lufiaXW' anc | a | so illustrates the possible dangers of unregulated The administration at 

Miletus was engaged in the ever-recurrent task of putting Dionysus in a strait waistcoat. 

In the Bacchae , ** is practised first on the Theban cattle and then on Pentheus; in both 
cases it is described with a gusto which 




- 277 - 

the modern reader has difficulty in sharing. A detailed description of the &no<t>a.yia WO uld perhaps have 
been too much for the stomachs even of an Athenian audience; Euripides speaks of it twice, Bacchae 
139 and Cretans fragm. 472, but in each place he passes over it swiftly and discreetly. It is hard to 
guess at the psychological state that he describes in the two words ^no<i>ayo» xb-P lv ■ but it is noteworthy 
that the days appointed for were "unlucky and black days," [501 and in fact those who practise 

such a rite in our time seem to experience in it a mixture of supreme exaltation and supreme 
repulsion: it is at once holy and horrible, fulfilment and uncleanness, a sacrament and a pollution— the 
same violent conflict of emotional attitudes that runs all through the Bacchae and lies at the root of all 
religion of the Dionysiac type. 151 - 1 

Late Greek writers explained the un<xfiayi.a as they did the dancing, and as some would explain the 
Christian communion: it was merely a commemorative rite, in memory of the day when the infant 
Dionysus was himself torn to pieces and devoured. [52] But the practice seems to rest in fact on a very 
simple piece of savage logic. The homoeopathic effects of a flesh diet are known all over the world. If 
you want to be lion-hearted, you must eat lion; if you want to be subtle, you must eat snake; those 
who eat chickens and hares will be cowards, those who eat pork will get little piggy eyes. [53] By parity 
of reasoning, if you want to be like god you must eat god (or at any rate something which is Ot’ioy). And 
you must eat him quick and raw, before the blood has oozed from him: only so can you add his life to 
yours, for "the blood is the life." God is not always there to be eaten, nor indeed would it be safe to 
eat him at common times and without due preparation for the reception of the sacrament. But once in 
two years he is present among his mountain dancers: "the Boeotians," says Diodorus (4.3), "and the 
other Greeks and Thracians believe that at this time he has his epiphany among men"— just as he has 
in the Bacchae . He may appear in many forms, vegetable, bestial, human; and he is eaten in many 
forms. In Plutarch's day it was the ivy that was torn to pieces and chewed : [54 -* that may be primitive, 
or it may be a surrogate for something bloodier. In Euripides bulls are torn, [55] the goat torn and 
eaten; [56] we hear elsewhere of 0 f fawns 157 - 1 and rending of vipers. Since in all these we 

may with greater or less probability recognise embodiments of the god, I incline to accept Gruppe’s 
view [59] that the uno^ayia was a sacrament in which God was present in his beast- 



- 278 - 

vehicle and was torn and eaten in that shape by his people. And I have argued elsewhere 160 - 1 that 
there once existed a more potent, because more dreadful, form of this sacrament, viz., the rending, 
and perhaps the eating, of God in the shape of man; and that the story of Pentheus is in part a 
reflection of that act— in opposition to the fashionable euhemerism which sees in it only the reflection 
of a historical conflict between Dionysiac missionaries and their opponents. 

To sum up: I have tried to show that Euripides’ description of maenadism is not to be accounted 
for in terms of "the imagination alone"; that inscriptional evidence (incomplete as it is) reveals a closer 
relationship with actual cult than Victorian scholars realised; and that the maenad, however mythical 
certain of her acts, is not in essence a mythological character 161 - 1 but an observed and still observable 
human type. Dionysus has still his votaries or victims, though we call them by other names; and 
Pentheus was confronted by a problem which other civil authorities have had to face in real life. 



- 283 - 



Appendix 1 1 
Theurgy 

THE LAST half-century has seen a remarkable advance in our knowledge of the magical beliefs and 
practices of later antiquity. But in comparison with this general progress the special branch of magic 
known as theurgy has been relatively neglected and is still imperfectly understood. The first step 
towards understanding it was taken more than fifty years ago by Wilhelm Kroll, when he collected and 
discussed the fragments of the Chaldaean Oracles . [1] Since then the late Professor Joseph Bidez has 
disinterred and explained 12 - 1 a number of interesting Byzantine texts, mainly from Psellus, which 
appear to derive from Proclus’ lost commentary on the Chaldaean Oracles , perhaps through the work 
of Proclus’ Christian opponent, Procopius of Gaza; and Hopfner 13 - 1 and Eitrem 14 - 1 have made valuable 




contributions, especially in calling attention to the many common features linking theurgy with the 
Greco-Egyptian magic of the papyri.* 5 -* But much is still obscure, and is likely to remain so until the 
scattered texts bearing on theurgy have been collected and studied as a whole* 6 * (a task which Bidez 
seems to have contemplated, but left unaccomplished at his death). The present paper does not aim 
at completeness, still less at finality, but only at (i) clarifying the relationship between Neoplatonism 
and theurgy in their historical development, and (ii) examining the actual modus operandi in what 
seem to have been the two main branches of theurgy. 

I . The Founder Of Theurgy 

So far as we know, the earliest person to be described as Otovpyfc was one Julianus,* 7 * who lived under 
Marcus Aurelius. * 8 * Probably, as Bidez suggested, * 9 * he invented the designation, to distinguish 
himself from mere 0 * 0 X 6701 ; the 0 * 0 X 6701 talked about the gods, he "acted 

These pages are reprinted with a few minor changes from the Journal of Roman Studies , Vol. 37 (1947). I must express my gratitude to Professors 
M. P. Nilsson and A. D. Nock, who read the paper in manuscript and contributed valuable suggestions. 



- 284 - 

upon" them, or even, perhaps, "created" them . 110 - 1 Of this personage we know regrettably little. 

Suidas tells us that he was the son of a "Chaldaean philosopher" of the same name , 1111 author of a 
work on daemons in four books, and that he himself wrote 0 «wp 7 i*d, T<X« 7 Tud, Ap7i<* 8 *’ irCiv. That 
these "hexameter oracles" were (as Lobeck conjectured) none other than the Oracula Chaldai'ca on 
which Proclus wrote a vast commentary (Marinus, vit. Procli 26) is put beyond reasonable doubt by the 
reference of a scholiast on Lucian*- 12 -* to Ta r< X«XTitca IouXtavoC & IIpokXot mropmjpaTl^ti, 01s 6 Tlponiriet 

avTi<j>$iyytTai ' anc j p S ellus' statement that Proclus "fell in love with the called Aoyia by their 
admirers, in which Julianus set forth the Chaldaean doctrines."* 13 * By his own account, Julianus 
received these oracles from the gods: they were 0«oirapd5oTaI 14 ] where he in fact got them we do not 
know. As Kroll pointed out, their manner and content suit the age of the Antonines better than any 
earlier period.* 15 * Julianus may of course have forged them; but their diction is so bizarre and 
bombastic, their thought so obscure and incoherent, as to suggest rather the trance utterances of 
modern "spirit guides" than the deliberate efforts of a forger. It seems indeed not impossible, in view 
of what we know about later theurgy, that they had their origin in the "revelations" of some visionary 
or trance medium, and that Julianus' part consisted, as Psellus (or his source Proclus) asserts ,* 165 in 
putting them into verse. This would be in accordance with the established practice of official 
oracles;* 17 * and the transposition into hexameters would give an opportunity of introducing some 
semblance of philosophical meaning and system into the rigmarole. But the pious reader would still 
stand badly in need of some prose explanation or commentary, and this also Julianus seems to have 
supplied; for it is certainly he whom Proclus quotes (in Tim . III. 124.32) as 8 0*wpy8s tv rots i^yrirmois 
. Marinus is probably referring to the same commentary when he speaks of r ® -Wta ro avaToixa 
rCiv XaXSaiwv <rv 77 pappara (vit Proc |j 2 6 ), and Damascius (11.203.27) when he cites 
ol 0*ol nai aiTo* 6 Otovpyis whether it was identical with the 0 «wp 7 «A mentioned by Suidas we do not 
know. Proclus once (in Tim . III. 27. 10) quotes Julianus ^ */^ 66 pjj ruv Z«w«w which sounds like a section 
of the QtovpytKa dealing in seven chapters with the seven planetary spheres through which the soul 
descends and reascends (cf. in Remp . 11.220. 11 ff.). On the probable content of the TeXtcmndsee 
below, section IV . 



- 285 - 

Be the origin of the Chaldaean Oracles what it may, they certainly included not only prescriptions for a 
fire and sun cult* iS ' but prescriptions for the magical evocation of gods (see below, p. 298). And later 
tradition represents the Juliani as potent magicians. According to Psellus,* 19 * the elder Julianus 
"introduced" (^vWcmjcre) his son to the ghost of Plato; and it seems that they claimed to possess a spell 
(“7«7»T) for producing an apparition of the god Xp 6 j'os i I 20 I They could also cause men's souls to leave 
and reenter the body.* 21 -* Nor was their fame confined to Neoplatonic circles. The timely thunderstorm 
which saved the Roman army during Marcus' campaign against the Quadi in 173 A.D. was attributed 
by some to the magic arts of the younger Julianus;* 22 -* in Psellus' version of the story Julianus makes 
a human mask of day which discharges "unendurable thunderbolts" at the enemy.* 23 * Sozomen has 
heard of his splitting a stone by magic (Hist. Eccl . 1.18); and a picturesque Christian legend shows 
him competing in a display of magical powers with Apollonius and Apuleius: Rome being stricken with 
a plague, each magician is assigned the medical superintendence of one sector of the city; Apuleius 




undertakes to stop the plague in fifteen days, Apollonius in ten, but Julianus stops it instantly by a 
mere word of command . 1241 



1 1 . Theurgy I n The Neoplatonic School 

The creator of theurgy was a magician, not a Neoplatonist. And the creator of Neoplatonism was 
neither a magician nor— pace certain modern writers— a theurgist . 1251 Plotinus is never described by 
his successors as a nor does he use the term Otovpyla or its cognates in his writings. There is 

in fact no evidence 1261 that he had ever heard of Julianus and his Chaldaean Oracles . Had he known 
them he would presumably have subjected them to the same critical treatment as the revelations "of 
Zoroaster and Zostrianus and Nikotheos and Allogenes and Mesos and others of the sort," which were 
analysed and exposed in his seminar . 1271 For in his great defence of the Greek rationalist tradition, the 
essay Against the Gnostics (Enn . 2.9), he makes very dear both his distaste for all such 
megalomaniac "special revelations " 1281 and his contempt for ,ro ^ ols > °* r ® 5 Ta * > ® 
toTs p<Wois SuKantis flaupdfovtrc ( c 14 , 1.203.32. Volkmann). Not that he denied the efficacy of magic 
(could any man of the third century deny it?). But it did not interest him. He saw in it merely an 
application to mean personal ends of "the true magic which is the sum of 



- 286 - 

love and hatred in the universe," the mysterious and truly admirable wpirdfea w hich makes the 
cosmos one; men marvel at human ywrt'ia more than at the magic of nature only because it is less 
familiar . 1291 

Despite all this, the article "Theurgie" which appeared in a recent volume of Pauly-Wissowa calls 
Plotinus a theurgist, and Eitrem has lately spoken of "Plotin, dont sans doute derive la theurgie ." 1301 
The main grounds for this opinion seem to be (1) his allegeds 1311 Egyptian birth and the fact that he 
studied at Alexandria under Ammonius Saccas; (2) his allegedly profound 1321 knowledge of Egyptian 
religion; (3) his experience of unio mystica (Porph. vit. Plot . 23); and (4) the affair at the Iseum in 
Rome (ibid ., 10, quoted and discussed in section 111 below, p. 289). Of these considerations only the 
last seems to me to be really relevant. On the first point it must suffice here to say that Plotinus' name 
is Roman, that his manner of thought and speech is characteristically Greek, and that in the little we 
know of Ammonius Saccas there is nothing which warrants calling him a theurgist. As to the 
acquaintance with Egyptian religion displayed in the Enneads , I cannot see that it amounts to more 
than a few casual references to matters of common knowledge: Porphyry learned as much or more by 
reading Chaeremon . 1331 And as to the Plotinian unio mystica , it must surely be clear to any careful 
reader of passages like Enn . 1.6.9. or 6.7.34, that it is attained, not by any ritual of evocation or 
performance of prescribed acts, but by an inward discipline of the mind which involves no compulsive 
element and has nothing whatever to do with magic . 1341 There remains the affair of the Iseum. That is 
theurgy, or something like it. It rests, however, only on school gossip (see below). And in any case 
one visit to a seance does not make a man a spiritualist, especially if, like Plotinus, he goes there on 
someone else's initiative. 

Plotinus is a man who, as Wilhelm Kroll put it, "raised himself by a strong intellectual and moral 
effort above the fog-ridden atmosphere which surrounded him." While he lived, he lifted his pupils with 
him. But with his death the fog began to close in again, and later Neoplatonism is in many respects a 
retrogression to the spineless syncretism from which he had tried to escape. The conflict between 
Plotinus' personal influence and the superstitions of the time appears very plainly in the wavering 
attitude of his pupil Porphyry 1351 —an honest, learned, and lovable man, but no consistent or creative 



- 287 - 

thinker. Deeply religious by temperament, he had an incurable weakness for oracles. Before he met 
Plotinus 1361 he had already published a collection under the title Htpi Xorta*’ ^tXcxro^tasI 37 ! Some 
of these refer to mediums, and are themselves clearly what we should call "seance-room" products 
(see below, section v). But there is no trace of his having quoted the Chaldaean Oracles (or used the 
term theurgy) in this work; probably he was still unaware of their existence when he wrote it. Later, 
when Plotinus has taught him to ask questions, he addresses a series of decidedly searching and often 
ironic-sounding inquiries on demonology and occultism to the Egyptian Anebo , 1 * 81 and points out, 
among other things, the folly of attempting to put magical constraint on gods . 1391 It was probably 
later still , 1 - 401 after the death of Plotinus, that he disinterred the Chaldaean Oracles from the obscurity 
in which they had survived (as such books do) for more than a century, wrote a commentary on 




them, 1411 and "made continual mention of them" in his de regressu animae . [421 In the latter work he 
held that theurgic riXtrai could purify the ■'Mvjiarun) and make it "aptam susceptioni spirituum et 
angelorum et ad videndos deos"; but he warned his readers that the practice was perilous and capable 
of evil as well as good uses, and denied that it could achieve, or was a necessary ancillary to, the 
soul's return to god. [43] He was, in fact, still a Plotinian at heart. [44:i But he had made a dangerous 
concession to the opposing school. 

The answer of that school came in Iamblichus' commentary on the Chaldaean Oracles 145 - 1 and in 
the extant treatise de mysteriis , [46] The de mysteriis is a manifesto of irrationalism, an assertion that 
the road to salvation is found not in reason but in ritual. "It is not thought that links the theurgists 
with the gods: rise what should hinder theoretical philosophers from enjoying theurgic union with 
them? The case is not so. Theurgic union is attained only by the efficacy of the unspeakable acts 
performed in the appropriate manner, acts which are beyond all comprehension, and by the potency of 
the unutterable symbols which are comprehended only by the gods.... Without intellectual effort on 
our part the tokens (mwJwMro) by their own virtue accomplish their proper work" (de myst . 96.13 
Parthey). To the discouraged minds of fourth-century pagans such a message offered a seductive 
comfort. The "theoretical philosophers" had now been arguing for some nine centuries, and what had 
come of it? Only a visibly declining culture, and the creeping growth of that Christian 



- 288 - 

iOtorris which was too plainly sucking the lifeblood of Hellenism. As vulgar magic is commonly the last 
resort of the personally desperate, of those whom man and God have alike failed, so theurgy became 
the refuge of a despairing intelligentsia which already felt la fascination de I'ablme . 

Nevertheless it would seem that even in the generation after Iamblichus theurgy was not yet fully 
accepted in the Neoplatonic school. Eunapius in an instructive passage (vit. soph . 474 f. Boissonade) 
shows us Eusebius of Myndus, a pupil of Iamblichus' pupil Aedesius, maintaining in his lectures that 
magic was an affair of "crazed persons who make a perverted study of certain powers derived from 
matter," and warning the future emperor Julian against "that stagy miracle-worker" the theurgist 
Maximus: he concludes, in words which recall Plotinus, ^ ** tovtwp whip da vpitrrn, Cxnctp 
ou«i ly 6, t 4» iid toD Xd>oo niBapaw piya n xprjpa Ir*o\ap0avup To which the pr j n ce replied: "You can stick 
to your books: I know now where to go"— and betook himself to Maximus. Shortly afterwards we find 
the young Julian asking his friend Priscus to get him a good copy of Iamblichus' commentary on his 
namesake (Julianus the theurgist); for, says he, "I am greedy for Iamblichus in philosophy and my 
namesake in theosophy [9eotfo#a, j. e . theurgy], and think nothing of the rest in comparison. " [47] 

Julian's patronage made theurgy temporarily fashionable. When as emperor he set about 
reforming the pagan clergy, the theurgist Chrysanthius found himself apx ‘ <p * u5 of Lydia; while 
Maximus as theurgic consultant to the imperial court became a wealthy and influential eminence grise 
, since rw»> iropdvrw*' ^irl tous dtofo iravra Mftpov (Eunap. p. 477 Boiss.; cf. Atom. Marc. 22.7.3 and 
25.4.17). But Maximus paid for this in the subsequent Christian reaction, when he was fined, tortured, 
and eventually in 371 executed on a charge of conspiracy against the Emperors (Eunap. p. 478; Amm. 
Marc. 29. 1.42; Zosimus 4-15). For some time after this event theurgists deemed it prudent to lie 
low; [4sJ but the tradition of their art was quietly handed down in certain families. [4d:i In the fifth 
century it was again openly taught and practised by the Athenian Neoplatonists: Proclus not only 
composed a and a further commentary on the Chaldaean Oracles , but also enjoyed 

personal visions (atrroTTovnivo *r) 0 f luminous "Hecatic" phantasms and was, like the founder of the cult, 
great at rainmaking. [50:| After Justinian theurgy went under- 



- 289 - 

ground again, but did not wholly die. Psellus has described a dtayuyla conducted by an archbishop on 
the lines of pagan theurgy (reus XaX5a[«j'X6-yo« t w6p(vot) r which he asserts took place at Byzantium in 
the eleventh century; and Proclus' commentary on the Oracles was still known, directly or 
indirectly, to Nicephoros Gregoras in the fourteenth. [521 

1 1 1 . A SeAnce in the I seum 

Porphyry, vita Plotini 10 (16. 12 ff. Volk.): 

Alyvirrios yip ri$ Uptvt 




detXOwp tis rl)v 'Pupijv ko. 1 Sib nvos <pl\ou avru (sc. IIXwtIcoj) yvupur. 

Otis OfXuv rt Tjjs lavrov <ro<j>las bvbSti^iv Sovvai rj£lu<rt rbv nXwrivof tiri 
Otav itpiKtoOcu rov owbvros a brip oUtlov Salpovos naAovptvov. rov Si 
irolpus VTranoOoavros ylvtrat piv tv rip 'letup rj k\t}<tis- pbvov yap 
intivov rbv rbwov KaOapbv <f>aeiv tvpti v tv rfj 'Pw/iij rbv Aiyvmov. 
xArjOevra Si els avro^lav rbv Salpova Otbv iAOtiv ko l pt/ toC Satpbvuv 
«r»>a» 7 <Vovs odtv rbv Aiyvrrrtov tlrttv paubptos tl Otbv Ixuv rbv 
Salpova Kai ou rod btfxtplvov yivovs rbv evvbvra. pi)Tt Si tpteOai rt 
bcytvtoOai pyrt bnwXtov IStiv Trapbvra, rod avvOtupovvr os <^>!Xov ras 
Spvtts, d? Kartixt <t>v\aKrjs srvl^avros tlrt Stb <(>0bvov ttrt xal 

Sib 4>b&ov rtvb. 

This curious passage has been discussed by Hopfner, OZ 11.125, and more fully by Eitrem, Symb. 
Oslo . 22.62 ff. We should not attach too high a historical value to it. Porphyry's use of 
shows that his source was neither Plotinus himself nor any of the actual "sitters"; and since he says 
that the affair prompted the composition of Plotinus' essay, to ^ “^vx^tos Satpovos (E nn 3.4), 
it must have taken place, like the composition of that essay, before Porphyry's own arrival in Rome, 
and at least thirty-five years before the publication of the vita . The testimony on which his story rests 
is thus neither first hand nor (probably) close in time to the event. It cannot, as Eitrem rightly says, 
"avoir la valeurd'une attestation authentique." 154 - 1 Nevertheless, it affords an interesting if tantalizing 
glimpse of high-class magical procedure in the third century. 

Neither the purpose nor the place of the seance need much sunrise us. The belief in an indwelling 
Saipuv j S ver y old anc j widespread, and was accepted and rationalised, in their respective fashions, by 
Plato and by the Stoics. [55:| That it may have played some part in Greco-Egyptian magic is suggested 
by PGM vii.505 ff., where a recipe, unfortunately incomplete, is headed Zborant ISIou 8«i*i©po* [56] 
should not, however, be confused with the much commoner evocation of a 



- 290 - 
vbptSpos 

or "familiar," whose connection with the magician is created for the first time by the magical 
procedure.) For the 

Saipuv 

turning out to be a god, cf., besides Plot. Enn . 3.4.6 (1.265.4 Volk.) 

Saipuv robrip 6 tbs 

(quoted by Eitrem), Olympiodorus in Ale . p. 20 Cr., where, after distinguishing 

Otloi Salpovts 

from those of lower rank, he tells us that 

ol Kar’ oixrlav iavruv fhovvrts *at <!« w t<i>v>caoi rbv 



Otiov Salpova lx oua ’ i,/ fi^vxbra . . . mar’ oi'< 7 la*> St ten fr/v rb irpba- 
<popov alptiedai fliov rfj atipp. v<t>’ fjv avbytrai, olov erpanunubv 
piv , lav StS rt)V bptiKriv, ktX 

. As to. the choice of place, it is sufficiently explained by the well-known requirement of a 

rbvos KaOapbs 

for magical operations? 157 - 1 together with Chaeremon's statement that Egyptian temples were 
accessible at ordinary times only to those who had purified themselves and undergone severe 
fasts. [58] 



But what puzzles Eitrem, as it has puzzled me, is the part played by the birds, 

4 s <car€tx« <£i/Xaojs tvtua 

, i.e., to protect the operators from attack by evilly disposed spirits (not, surely, to keep the birds 
themselves from flying away, as MacKenna, Brehier, and Harder unanimously mistranslate: for then 
their presence would be wholly unexplained). Protective measures are sometimes prescribed in the 
papyri. [59:i But how did the birds act as a 



(pv'Kax-ff 

? And why did their death banish the apparition? Hopfner says that the impurity of death drove the 
god away: they were brought there so that their killing should act as an 

aToXwm 

in case of need, but it was done prematurely and needlessly. Eitrem, on the other hand, 
comparing PGM xii . 1 5 ff., where the strangling of birds is part of the ritual for animating a wax figure 
of Eros, thinks that the real intention must have been sacrifice and that Porphyry or his informant 
misunderstood what happened: he finds the motives attributed to the 

tplXos 

"invraisemblables." In support of this view he might have quoted Porphyry's own statement in the 




Letter to Anebo 



that 



[ 61 ] 



Sib. vtKpuiv j'uui' to. iroXXd 
at fftaywyiai briTt\ovvrat 

, which seems to put Hopfner’s explanation out of court. There is, however, another passage of 
Porphyry which appears to imply that in killing birds on this occasion the 

(friKcvs 



was breaking a rule of the theurgic 



pVOTTjplOV 



: at de abst . 4.16 (255.7 N.) he says, 

ikrm Si tfraap&ru v frvaiv '«jrbpT\atv, olStv nad' Sv \byov 
brextoOai xpS xbvroiv bpviOuv, Kai piXurra Srav ffirtvSfl Tit ix t£>v 
xdoviuv djraXXa7^i>ai koll irpbi rot? s ovpaviovs dtov s iSpuvdrjvai 
. This fits the occasion at the Iseum so aptly (for 

|aT«x<^0“‘ | 

can surely cover abstention from kiting as well as from eating) that it is difficult not 



- 291 - 

to feel that Porphyry had it in mind. We may perhaps compare also the Pythagorean rule which 
specifically forbade the sacrifice of cocks (Iamb. vit. Pyth . 147, Protrept . 21). 

But if so, why were the birds there? Possibly because their presence was in itself a SpvtBa 

without qualifying description are usually domestic fowl, ^toikiSwi bpvSt% ( c f |_.-S. 9 , s.v.). And the 
domestic fowl, as Cumont has pointed out, 5:621 brought with it from its original home in Persia the 
name of being a holy bird, a banisher of darkness and therefore of demons: 5631 Plutarch, for example, 
knows that *&*'** xalSpvtfftt belong to Oromazes (Ormuzd). 5641 Is it not likely that in this matter, as in 
its fire-cult, the theurgic tradition preserved traces of Iranian religious ideas, and that Porphyry at 
least, if not the Egyptian priest, thought of the birds’ function as apotropaic and of their death as an 
outrage to the heavenly phantasm? There is, in fact, later evidence to support the guess: for we learn 
from Proclus not only that cocks are solar creatures, M* T ixovrtf 1(05 a ^ T0 ‘ Kar * T ^ v ri{n> r 

but that vSy rtva tuiv 7jXta Koiv Saipbvuv \<ovTOTpb<rurov <fra.tvbp.tvov, b\tKTpvovo% SttxOfvros, btfravfj ytvtoOcu 
<fra oil' viroiTTtWSptvov to tCiv Kpttrrbvuv 



IV. The Modus Operandi: ™x«m*^ 

Proclus grandiloquently detines theurgy as "a power higher than all human wisdom, embracing the 
blessings of divination, the purifying powers of initiation, and in a word all the operations of divine 
possession" (Theol. Plat . p. 63). It may be described more simply as magic applied to a religious 
purpose and resting on a supposed revelation of a religious character. Whereas vulgar magic used 
names and formulae of religious origin to profane ends, theurgy used the procedures of vulgar magic 
primarily to a religious end: its was ^ *pb* *6 voi)r6v wvp &vo6ot m y S t . 179.8), which enabled its 
votaries to escape ( oi> yap «#>’ tipapriiv A y(\w irirrovcn 0(oupyoi Or cha | d p 59 Kr . cf de myst; 

. 269.19 ff.), and ensured T ^* f v XV* braOavartvpSt (Prod, in Remp . 1. 152. 10). 5661 But it had also a 
more immediate utility: Book III of the de mysteriis is devoted entirely to techniques of divination, and 
Proclus claims to have received from the Satpovti many revelations about the past and future (in Remp 
.1.86.13). 

So far as we can judge, the procedures of theurgy were broadly similar to those of vulgar magic. 
We can distinguish two main types: 



- 292 - 

(i) those which depended exclusively on the use of <rvp$oXa or awdripara- and (ii) those which involved 
the employment of an entranced "medium." 

Of these two branches of theurgy, the first appears to have been known as 

TtXtOTlKTi 

, and to have been concerned mainly with the consecrating ( 

Tt\tlV 

, Procl. in Tim . III. 6. 13) and animating of magic statues in order to obtain oracles from them: Proclus 
in Tim . III. 155. 18, 




rrfv TtXtanici)v (cal xpy ffr VP ia * a * A^AX^iara QtCiv ISpvaOai hrt yjjs teal 
SiA rifuv avpfioXwr tv irr/5fia Toittv ra in ptptnfjf CXijs ytvbptva icai 
ejtOaprrjs <ls to pfTfxnv Otov teal tuvttaOu -trap' abrod teal rpo\iynv 



rd p«XXop 

: Theol. Plat. 1.28, p.70, 

il Tt\t<TTinr) biana6r)paaa teal ru'd! 

Xapaxrfjpas tea l avpffcXa mpinOtiaa rep ayaXpan tp^vxov a in 6 

iroiijat 

: to the same effect in Tim . 1.51.25, III. 6. 12 ff.; in Crat . 19.12. [67 - 1 We may suppose that a part at 
least of this lore goes back to the 

T«Xe<rTi«d 



of Julianus; certainly the 

go back to the Chaldaean Oracles , t68] 



avp0a\a 



What were these 



|<TlV0oXa| 

, and how were they used? The dearest answer is given in a letter of Psellus. 9J 

Lctivrf yip 



(sc. 



J) T ihtITTIKTl 

iirearrjpr) 



) 



rd jhhXo ru>v iyaXpiruv CXjjs ipimrXcbera oUtias rats 



iejttarrjtcvlais Suvapten, faw, 4>vtCiv, Xi'Owj', fioTavunr, {nfae, aeftpaylfav , 
iyypapparuv, ^iore Si neat apoipiruv avpT aOCiir, avyteaOeSpvovaa Si 
ToiiToi? Kal Kparrjpat teal enrovStia icai Ovpiarripia, ipirvoa toiu to ttSuXa 
xal tij itroppr\Tw Svvapti tsivt? 



. This is genuine theurgic doctrine, doubtless derived from Proclus’ commentary on the Chaldaean 
Oracles . The animals, herbs, stones, and scents figure in the de myst . (233.10 ff., cf. Aug. Civ. D . 
10.11), and Proclus gives a list of magical herbs, stones, etc., good for various purposes. [7o:i Each god 
has his "sympathetic" representative in the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral world, which is, or 
contains, a 

<rvp0o\ov 

of its divine cause and is thus en rapport with the latter. These 

abpfioXa 

were concealed inside the statue, [72] so that they were known only to the 

TtXtCTTljj 



(Prod, in Tim . 1.273.11). The 



aeftpaylSti 



(engraved gems) and 

(written formulae) correspond to the 



iyypippara 

XapaKTTjpts icai ovbpara fauna 



of Prod, in Tim . III. 6. 13. The 



xapattrrjpts 

(which include such things as the seven vowels symbolic of the seven planetary gods) [73:i might be 
either written down ( 

Ota is 



) or uttered ( 



itup&nnfait 

). [74:i The correct manner of uttering them was a professional secret orally transmitted. [75] The god’s 
attributes might also be named with magical effect in an oral invocation. [761 The "life-giving names" 
further included certain 



- 293 - 

secret appellations which the gods themselves revealed to the Juliani, thus enabling them to obtain 
answers to their prayers. [77:| These would be among the flapfiapa w hich according to the 

Chaldaean Oracle lose their efficacy if translated into Greek. [78] Some of them have indeed been 
explained to us by the gods; [79] as to the rest, if a Xo-P&ktvp js meaningless to us 
aiird rovrS far iv am>D t 6 atpyirarov (de myst . 254.14 ff.). 




In all this the theurgic r«X«<rrii\ was far from original. The ancient herbals and lapidaries are full of 
the "astrological botany" and "astrological mineralogy" which assigned particular plants and gems to 
particular planetary gods, and whose beginnings go back at least to Bolus of Mendes (about 200 B.C. 
). C80] These |<nV£oXa[ W ere already utilized in the invocations of Greco-Egyptian magic; thus Hermes is 
evoked by naming his plant and his tree, the moon-goddess by reciting a list of animals, etc., ending 
ilp7)K&. oov rA ffijptla mi ra <rvp&o\a roD (JpomotW 811 X<*paKTrjp«^ | j s t s of attributes, ov6para (S&p&apa belong to 
the standard Greco-Egyptian materia magica ; the use of the last was familiar to Lucian (Menipp. 9 fin. 
), and Celsus, and the theory of their untranslatable efficacy was stoutly maintained by Origen against 
the latter (c. Cels . 1.24 f.). For a god revealing his true name in the course of a magical operation, cf. 
PGM i.161 ff.; for the importance of correct PGM v.24, etc. 

Nor was the manufacture of magical statuettes of gods a new industry or a monopoly of the 
theurgists. [821 It rested ultimately upon the primitive and widespread belief in a natural <fvpira9ti.a 
linking image with original, [831 the same belief which underlies the magical use of images of human 
beings for purposes of envoutement . Its centre of diffusion was evidently Egypt, where it was rooted 
in native religious ideas. [84] The late Hermetic dialogue Asclepius knows of "statuas animatas sensu et 
spiritu plenas" which foretell the future "sorte, rate, somniis, multisque aliis rebus," and both cause 
and cure disease: the art of producing such statues, by imprisoning in consecrated images, with the 
help of herbs, gems, and odours, the souls of daemons or of angels, was discovered by the ancient 
Egyptians: "sic deorum fictor eat homo." 1851 The magical papyri offer recipes for constructing such 
images and animating them (fwirupto 1 , xii.318), e.g., iv.1841 ff., where the image is to be hollow, like 
Psellus' statues, and is to enclose a magic name inscribed on gold leaf; 2360 ff., a hollow Hermes 
enclosing a magic formula, consecrated by a garland and the sacrifice 



- 294 - 

of a cock. From the first century A.D. ‘ 86] onwards we begin to hear of the private 187 - 1 manufacture 
and magical use of comparable images outside Egypt. Nero had one, the gift of "plebeius quidam et 
ignotus," which warned him of conspiracies (Suet. Nero 56); Apuleius was accused, probably with 
justice, of possessing one. 1 -' 8 ' 31 Lucian in his philopseudes satirized the belief in them; 189 - 1 Philostratus 
mentions their use as amulets. [901 In the third century Porphyry quoted a Hecate-oracle 1911 giving 
instructions for the confection of an image which will procure the worshipper a vision of the goddess in 
sleep. [921 But the real vogue of the art came later, and appears to be due to Iamblichus, who 
doubtless saw in it the most effective defence of the traditional cult of images against the sneers of 
Christian critics. Whereas Porphyry's iyaXpaTUk seems to have advanced no claim that the gods 
were in any sense present in the images which symbolised them, 193 - 1 Iamblichus in his like-named 
work set out to prove "that idols are divine and filled with the divine presence," and supported his case 
by narrating iroXXdaTtflava.I 94 ] His disciples habitually sought omens from the statues, and were not 
slow to contribute hiudava 0 f their own: Maximus makes a statue of Hecate laugh and causes the 
torches in her hands to light up automatically; 195 - 1 Heraiscus has so sensitive an intuition that he can 
at once distinguish the "animate" from the "inanimate" statue by the sensations it gives him. [96] 

The art of fabricating oracular images passed from the dying pagan world into the repertoire of 
mediaeval magicians, where it had a long life, though it was never so common as the use of images 
for envoutement . Thus a bull of Pope John XXII, dated 1326 or 1327, denounces persons who by 
magic imprison demons in images or other objects, interrogate them, and obtain answers. [97] And two 
further questions suggest themselves in connection with the theurgic «Xwtuc $, though they cannot be 
pursued here. First, did it contribute something to the belief, familiar alike to mediaeval Italy and 
mediaeval Byzantium, in Tt\iffpara (talismans) or "statuae averruncae"— enchanted images whose 
presence, concealed or visible, had power to avert natural disaster or military defeat? 1981 Were some 
of these TtKtopara (usually attributed to anonymous or legendary magicians) in fact the work of 
theurgists? We are told by Zosimus (4.18) that the theurgist Nestorius saved Athens from an 
earthquake in 375 A.D. by dedicating such a o ( a statue of Achilles) in the Parthenon, in 
accordance with instructions received in a dream. Theurgic also, it would seem, was the 



- 295 - 

statue of Zeus Philios dedicated Tl<r ‘ voTjmat* a t Antioch by a contemporary of 

Iamblichus, the fanatical pagan Theoteknos, who practised r<X«rai, and x^Oappoi j n connection 

with it (Eus. Hist. Eccl . 9.3; 9.11). A like origin may be guessed for that statue of Jupiter, armed with 
golden thunderbolts, which in 394 was "consecrated with certain rites" to assist the pagan pretender 
Eugenius against the troops of Theodosius (Aug. Civ. Dei 5.26): we may see here the hand of 




Flavianus, Eugenius' leading supporter and a man known for his dabbling in pagan occultism. Again, 
the a 7 a VaT«rt\«<r/i^ov which protected Rhegium both from the fires of Etna and from invasion by sea 
seems to have been furnished with <rT0 ‘X«‘<‘ in a way that recalls the <ri>n(h\a of theurgy and the papyri: 
m> yip rtpivl roil rvp anoip'qTov iTvyx avt i A» T V Mfilf viup aiia^opoiTSS] 

Secondly, did the theurgic reXtirrun SU gg 6 st to mediaeval alchemists the attempt to create 
artificial human beings ("homunculi") in which they were constantly engaged? Here the connection of 
ideas is less obvious, but curious evidence of some historical linkage has recently been brought 
forward by the Arabist Paul Kraus, 1100 - 1 whose premature death is a serious loss. He points out that 
the great corpus of alchemy attributed to Jabir b. Hayyan (Gebir) not only refers in this connection to 
a (spurious?) work of Porphyry entitled The Book of Generation , [ 101 - 1 but makes use of Neoplatonic 
speculations about images in a way which suggests some knowledge of genuine works of Porphyry, 
including perhaps the letter to Anebo. 1102 - 1 

V. The Modus Operandi: Mediumistic Trance 

While ffXwriK^ sought to induce the presence of a god in an inanimate "receptacle" (i’roiox’?), another 
branch of theurgy aimed at incarnating him temporarily (*l<r*piMu>) j n a human being (*«™xor 0 r, a 
more specific technical term, Sox*^)^ 1033 As the former art rested on the wider notion of a natural and 
spontaneous mpriOua between image and original, so did the latter on the widespread belief that 
spontaneous alterations of personality were due to possession by a god, daemon, or deceased human 
being. [104:| That a technique for producing such alterations goes back to the Juliani may be inferred 
from Proclus' statement that the ability of the soul to leave the body and return to it is confirmed by 
5c ra tocs Iri MApxov dtovpyols hiiioratKal yip intivoi iii 56 nvos reXtrijs rd airri 6puou> tit rduTtXoiiptvov 
, [105 - 1 And that such techniques were practised also by others 



- 296 - 

is shown by the oracle quoted from Porphyry's collection by Firmicus Maternus (err. prof, rel . 14) 
which begins, "Serapis vocatus et intra corpus hominis collocatus talia respondit." A number of 
Porphyry's oracles appear to be founded, as Frederic Myers saw, [106] on the utterances of mediums 
who had been thrown into trance for the purpose, not in official shrines but in private circles. To this 
class belong the directions for terminating the trance (iiroXwu), professedly given by the god through 
the entranced medium, [107] which have their analogues in the papyri but could hardly form part of an 
official oracular response. Of the same type is the "oracle" quoted (from Porphyry?) by Proclus in 
Remp .1.111.28, "ov <(>ipti pt rov ioxvot frri\atva Kopila. « <t>v<rl us dtuv Su ch private differed from 

official oracles in that the god was thought to enter the medium's body not as a spontaneous act of 
grace but in response to the appeal, even the compulsion, [1083 of the operator (*Mr«p). 

This branch of theurgy is especially interesting because of the evident analogy with modern 
spiritualism: if we were better informed about it, we might hope by a comparison to throw light on the 
psychological and physiological basis of both superstitions. But our information is tantalisingly 
incomplete. We know from Proclus that before the "sitting" both operator and medium were purified 
with fire and water 1109 - 1 (in Crat . 100.21), and that they were dressed in special chitons with special 
girdles appropriate to the deity to be invoked (in Remp . 11.246.23); this seems to correspond to the 
NeiXalrj 666v rj or <nviuv of the Porphyrian oracle (Praep. Ev . 5.9), whose removal was evidently an 
essential part of the 4*<Xwf ( c f. pgm iv.89, nriainiiras xari K«t>a\ijs pixpi roiuv yvpviv . . . ir<u5a t he "lintea 
indumenta" of the magicians in Atom. Marc. 29.1.29, and the "purum pallium" of Apul. Apol . 44). The 
medium also wore a garland, which had magical efficacy, 1 1 1101 and carried, or wore on his dress, 
tlKovieftara ruv MKXijpivuv fou^I 111 ! or other appropriate fri'pfaXal 112 ] vvhat else was done to induce 
trance is uncertain. Porphyry knows of persons who try to procure possession ( «i<ntpimv) by "standing 
upon X“*>“*u5p«." (as mediaeval magicians did), but Iamblichus thinks poorly of this procedure (de 
myst . 129.13; 131.3 ff.). Iamblichus recognises the use of irpol and <ir i*Xi 7 <r«i (ibid ., 157.9 ff. ), but 
denies that they have any effect on the medium's mind; Apuleius, on the other hand (Apol . 43), 
speaks of the medium being put to sleep "seu carminum avocamento sire odorum delenimento." 
Proclus knows of the practice of 



- 297 - 

smearing the eyes with strychnine and other drugs in order to procure visions, [113:| but does not 
attribute it to the theurgists. Probably the effective agencies in the theurgic operation, as in 




spiritualism, were in fact psychological, not physiological. Iamblichus says that not everybody is a 
potential medium; the most suitable are "young and rather simple persons. "* 114] Herein he agrees 
with the general ancient opinion; 1115 - 1 and modern experience tends on the whole to support him, at 
least as regards the second part of his requirement. 

The behaviour and psychological condition of the medium are described at some length, though 
obscurely, by Iamblichus (de myst . 3.4-7), and in clearer terms by Psellus (orat . 27, Scripta Minora 
1.248. 1 ff., based on Proclus: cf. also CMAG VI. 209. 15 ff., and Op. Daem . xiv, PG 122, 851). Psellus 
distinguishes cases where the medium's personality is completely in abeyance, so that it is absolutely 
necessary to have a normal person present to look after him, from those where consciousness ( 
!rapai<oXoL'07)<m) persists 9avpa<rr6i> uva rpovoif i so that the medium knows 
tivo t* ti'jp-ytt mu t[ kgi t i>9tv 5<i airoXvtu' t6 kipovp. Both these types of trance occur 

today.* 116 * The symptoms of trance are said by Iamblichus to vary widely with different 
"communicators" and on different occasions (111.3 ff.); there may be anaesthesia, including 
insensibility to fire (110.4 ff.); there may be bodily movement or complete immobility (111.17); there 
may be changes of voice (112.5 ff.). Psellus mentions the risk of &X«A irt-tipara causing convulsive 
movement (*i*”?<r*»’ p«rA nvotfii a% ytvopivriv^ w hich weaker mediums are unable to bear; 1117 - 1 elsewhere 
he speaks of K ^ T0 X° L biting their lips and muttering between their teeth (CMAG VI. 164. 18). Most of 
these symptoms can be illustrated from the classic study of Mrs. Piper's trance phenomena by Mrs. 
Henry Sidgwick.* 1It: * It is, I think, reasonable to conclude that the states descried by the ancient and 
the modern observers are, if not identical, at least analogous. (One may add the significant 
observation quoted by Porhyry, ap . Eus. Praep. Ev . 5.8, from Pythagoras of Rhodes, that "the gods" 
come at first reluctantly, but more easily when they have formed a habit— i.e., when a trance 
personality has been established.) 

We do not hear that these "gods" furnished any proofs of identity; and it would seem that their 
identity was often in fact disputed. Porphyry wished to know how the presence of a god was to be 
distinguished from that of an angel, archangel, Apx^ or 



- 298 - 

human soul (de myst . 70.9). Iamblichus admits that impure or inexpert operators sometimes get the 
wrong god or, worse still, one of those evil spirits who are called avrUkoJ 119 ] ( j bid ., 177.7 ff.). He 
himself is said to have unmasked an alleged Apollo who was in reality only the ghost of a gladiator 
(Eunap. vit. soph . 473). False answers are attributed by Synesius, de insomn . 142A, to such intrusive 
spirits, which "jump in and occupy the place prepared for a higher being"; his commentator, 

Nicephoros Gregoras (PG 149, 540A), ascribes this view to the XaXSaToi (Julianus?), and quotes (from 
the Chaldaean Oracles? ) a prescription for dealing with such situations. Others account for false 
answers by "bad conditions" 1120 - 1 (jovypi Kari.cTa(nsrov irtpiixovT(n l Porph. ap . Eus. Praep. Ev . 6.5 = 
Philop. de mundi creat . 4.20), or lack of ^riTti5«4r>)j;[ 121 ] others again, by the medium's disturbed 
state of mind or the inopportune intervention of his normal self (de myst . 115.10). All these ways of 
excusing failure recur in the literature of spiritualism. 

Besides revealing past or future through the medium's lips, the gods vouchsafed visible (or 
occasionally audible)* 122] signs of their presence. The medium's person might be visibly elongated or 
dilated, * 123 * or even levitated (de myst . 112. 3). * 124 * But the manifestations usually took the form of 
luminous apparitions: indeed, in the absence of these "blessed visions," Iamblichus considers that the 
operators cannot be sure what they are doing (de myst . 112.18). It seems that Proclus distinguished 
two types of seance: the "autoptic," where the Harris witnessed the phenomena for himself; and the 
"epoptic," where he had to be content With having them described to him by the 
kXijtwp ,6 rijv Tt\iTi]v Siandtutvot ) [ 125 ] j n ^g | a ^ er case the visions were, of course, exposed to the 
suspicion of being purely subjective, and Porphyry seems to have suggested as much; for Iamblichus 
energetically repudiates the notion that Mtowio<rp6j or pavrucr) ma y b e 0 f subjective origin (de myst . 
114.16; 166.13), and apparently refers to objective traces of their visit which the "gods" leave 
behind. * 126 * Later writers are at pains to explan why only certain persons, thanks to a natural gift or 
to tpariKii biivapit' can enjoy such visions (Prod, in Remp . 11.167.12; Hermeias in Phaedr . 69.7 
Couvreur). 

The luminous apparitions go back to the Chaldaean Oracles , which promised that by pronouncing 
certain spells the operator should see "fire shaped like a boy," or "an unshaped (At&t«toi>) fj re with a 
voice proceeding from it," or various other things. * 127 * Compare the vv P av "rv 



- 299 - 




<t>& <r/iora which the "Chaldaeans" are said to have exhibited to the Emperor Julian; 11281 the 

ra 'E*ari»c& 0 wro«iS^ w hi c h Proclus claimed to have seen (Marin, vit. Prod . 28); and Hippolytus' 
recipe for simulating a fiery apparition of Hecate by natural if somewhat dangerous means (Ref. Haer . 
4.36). At de myst 3.6 (112.10 ff.) these phenomena are clearly associated with mediumship: the spirit 
may be seen as a fiery or luminous form entering (titMpu'iptw) or leaving the medium's body, by the 
operator ( T V 9eayayowny py th e medium ( T V kxonivyy and sometimes by all present: the last (Proclus' 
ai'roi^ta) j S; we are told, the most satisfactory. The apparent analogy with the so-called "ectoplasm" or 
"teleplasm," which modern observers claim to have seen emerge from and return to the bodies of 
certain mediums, has been noted by Hopfner [1291 and others. Like "ectoplasm," the appearances 
might be shapeless ( a ™irwTa, hpbpifaTa^ or f ormec | (T€rvww/xii>a, p(pop<t>uplvay one 0 f Porphyry's oracles 
(Praep. Ev . 5.8) speaks of "the pure fire being compressed into sacred forms (Tfriroi)"; but according 
to Psellus (PG 122, 1136c) the shapeless appearances are the most trustworthy, and Proclus (in Crat . 
34.28) gives the reason — i ova* 5ia r^v rpiobov iyi vtro ptpopfaspivi) -phe luminous 
character which is regularly attributed to them is doubtless connected with the "Chaldaean" (Iranian) 
fire-cult; but it also recaps the ❖wotwyIoi 0 f papyri [1301 as well as the "lights" of the modern 
stance-room. Proclus seems to have spoken of the shaping proems as taking place "in a light": [ 13 11 
this suggests a Xu^opamta / |j|< e that prescribed at PGM vii.540 ff., where the magician says (561), 
avrov ( sc _ -rod Traitor) <b T V» ^vxV. ruTwnjra t tt)v aOavaTOV pop<j>^v iv fan t uparauji teal &<j>6a pry 

Eitrem [1321 would translate tw«*ijrai here as "perceive" (a sense not elsewhere attested); but in view 
of the passages just referred to I think we should render "give shape to" ("abbilden," Preisendanz) and 
suppose that a materialization is in question. The "strong immortal light" replaces the mortal light of 
the lamp, just as at PGM iv. 1103 ff. the watcher sees the light of the lamp become "vault-shaped," 
then finds it replaced by "a very great light within a void," and beholds the god. But whether a lamp 
was ever used in theurgy we do not know. Certainly some types of <t>urayuyia. we re conducted in 
darkness, 11331 others out of doors, [1341 while lychnomancy does not figure among the varieties of 
tjxjrdt ayuyfi | j s ted at de myst . 3.14. The similarity of language remains, however, striking. 



- 300 



Notes 

I Agamemnon's Apology 

1 Last Lectures , 182 ff. 

2 I ntroduction a I'l Made , 294. 

3 Rise of the Greek Epics 4 , 265. 

4 Tradition and Design in the I liad , 222. The italics are mine. Similarly Wilhelm Schmid thinks that Homer's conception of the 
gods "cannot be called religious." ( Gr. Literaturgeschichte , I.i. 112 f.) 

5 II 19.86 ff. 

6 137 ff. Cf. 9.119 f. 

7 19.270 ff. 

8 1.412. 

9 9.376. 

10 1.5. 

1111. 6.357. Cf. 3.164, where Priam says that not Helen but the gods are to blame (alriot ) for the war; and Od . 4.261, where 
she speaks of her “rij , 

12 II . 12.254 f.; Od . 23.11 ff. 

13 II . 6.234 ff. 

14 II 17.469 f. 

15 Cf. Wilamowitz, Die I lias und Homer , 304 f., 145. 

16 For this account of aT -J cf. W. Havers, "Zur Semasiologie yon griech. brij » ztschr. f. vgl. Sprachforschung , 43 (1910) 225 ff. 

17 The transition to this sense may be seen at Od . 10.68, 12.372, and 21.302. Otherwise it seems to be post-Homeric. L.-S. 
still cites for it 1 1 . 24.480, but I think wrongly: see Leaf and Ameis-Hentze ad loc . 

18 The plural seems to be twice used of actions symptomatic of the state of mind, at II 9.115 and (if the view taken in n. 20 is 
right) at II . 10.391. This is an easy and natural extension of the original sense. 

19 11.61; 21.297 ff. 

20 II 10.391 is commonly quoted as a solitary exception. The meaning, however, may be, not that Hector's unwise advice 
produced bry j n Dolon, but that it was a symptom of Hector's own condition of (divinely inspired) aT V . brat w j|| then be used in 
the same sense as at 9.115, whereas the common view postulates not only a unique psychology but a unique use ofdrai as 
"acts productive of infatuation." At Od . 10.68 Odysseus' companions are named as subordinate agents along with 

friri'OS <T^€T XlOY . 




21 II . 16.805. 

22 Ibid ., 780. 

23 Ibid ., 684-691. 

24 II . 11.340. 

25 Cf. L. Levy-Bruhl, Primitive Mentality , 43 ff . ; Primitives and the Supernatural , 57 f. (Eng. trans.). 

26 Od . 12.371 f. Cf. 10.68. 

27 || 9.512: T V Anj? &p" tirtodai, Xva P\a$0tis biroritrji 

28 II . 19.91. At 1 1 . 18.311 Athena, in her capacity as Goddess o f Co unsel, takes away the understanding of the Trojans, so that 
they applaud Hector's bad advice. This is not, however, called an &tij . But in the "Telemachy" Helen ascribes herarrf to 
Aphrodite ( Od . 4.261). 

29 1 1 . 24.49, where the plural may refer merely to the "portions" of different individuals (Wilamowitz, Glaube , 1.360). But the 
"mighty Spinners" of Od . 7.197 seem to be a kind of personal fates, akin to the Norns of Teutonic myth (cf. Chadwick, Growth 
of Literature , 1.646). 

30 Cf. Nilsson, History of Greek Religion , 169. Cornford's view, that potpa. "stands for the provincial ordering of the world," and 
that "the notion of the individual lot or fate comes last, not first, in the order of development" ( From Religion to Philosophy , 15 
ff.), seems to me intrinsically unlikely, and is certainly not supported by the evidence of Homer, where poipa. j S s ti|| quite 
concretely used for, e.g., a "helping" of meat ( Od . 20.260). Nor does George Thomson convince me that the Moipai originated 
" as symbols of the economic and social functions of primitive communism," or that "they grew out of the neolithic 
mother-goddesses" ( The Prehistoric Aegean , 339). 

31 Sneil, Philol . 85 (1929-1930) 141 ff., and (more elaborately) Chr. Voigt, Ueberlegung u. Entscheidung ... bei Homer , have 
pointed out that Homer has no word for an act of choice or decision. But the conclusion that in Homer "man still possesses no 
consciousness of personal freedom and of deciding for himself" (Voigt, op. cit ., 103) seems to me misleadingly expressed. I 
should rather say that Homeric man does not possess the concept of will (which developed curiously late in Greece), and 
therefore cannot possess the concept of "free will." That does not prevent him from distinguishing in practice between actions 
originated by the ego and those which he attributes to psychic intervention: Agamemnon can say i'Y 1 *’ b 

oi'K ainbs tipi, dXX a Zr: s . And it seems a little artificial to deny that what is described in passages like II . 11.403 ff. or Od . 
5.355 ff. is in effect a reasoned decision taken after consideration of possible alternatives. 

32 II . 16.849f. Cf. 18.119, 19.410, 21.82 ff., 22.297-303; and on "overdetermination" chap, ii, pp. 30 f. 

33 Rh. Mus . 50 (1895) 6 ff. ( = Kl. Schriften , 11.229). Cf. Nilsson, Gesch. d. gr. Rel . 1.91 f.; and, contra , Wilamowitz in the 
introduction to his translation of the Eumenides , and Rose, Handbook of Greek Mythology , 84. 

34 15.233 f. 

35 II . 19.418. Cf. S B ad loc ., ivlffmnroi ybp tiaiv ruv rapa . 

36 Fr. 94 Diels. 

37 In all cases but one ( Od . 11.279 f.) the claims are those of living persons. This seems to tell heavily against the theory 
(invented in the confident heyday of animism) that the ipivix r are the vengeful dead. So do ( a ) the fact that in Homer they 
never punish murder; ( b ) the fact that gods as well as men have "their" IpivittS . The ipivitt of Hera ( II . 21.412) have exactly 
the same function as those of Penelope ( Od . 2.135)— to protect the status of a mother by punishing an unfilial son. We can say 
that they are the maternal anger projected as a personal being. The 9tuv ipivirt who in the Thebais (fr. 2 Kinkel) heard the 
curse of the (living) Oedipus embodies in personal form the anger of the gods invoked in the curse: hence ipivirt and curse can 
be equated (Aesch. Sept . 70, Eum . 417). On this view Sophocles was not innovating, but using the traditional language, when 
he made Teiresias threaten Creon with ATSov Kai $tutv iptvvti ( Ant . 1075); their function is to punish Creon's violation of the 
poipa. f the natural apportionment, by which the dead Polyneices belongs to Hades, the living Antigone to theat'w 6toi 
(1068-1073). For poipa. a s status cf. Poseidon's claim to be loopopot nai dpi} irtirpwptvot oiffjj w jth Zeus, 1 1 . 15.209. Since 
writing this, I find the intimate connection of ipivirs with poipa also stressed by George Thomson ( The Prehistoric Aegean , 345) 
and by Eduard Fraenkei on Agam . 1535 f. 

38 II . 9-454, 571; 21.412; Od . 2.135. 

39 II . 15.204. 

40 Od . 17.475. 

41 P.V . 516, Moipai Tpipopfai pvripovit r’ ’Epims also Eum . 333 ff. and 961, Moipai parpiKaffiyvijrai . Euripides in a lost 
play made an ipu>0s declare that her other names are T VXV> viptmt, poipa f avayicif (f r . 1022). Cf. also Aeschylus, Sept . 
975-977. 

42 Eum . 372 ff., etc. 

43 On the long-standing problem of the relation of the gods to poipa (which cannot be solved in logical terms), see especially E. 
Leitzke, Moira u. Gottheit im alten griech. Epos , which sets out the material in full; E. Ehnmark, The Idea of God in Homer , 74 
ff.; Nilsson, Gesch. d. gr. Rel . 1.338 ff.; W. C. Greene, Moira , 22 ff. 

44 Demeter Epii'ir anc | verb iptvvtiv j n Arcadia, Paus. 8.25.4 ff. CUffa in Arcadian, IG V. 2. 265, 269; in Cypriot, GDI 1.73. 

45 Cf. E. Ehnmark, The I dea of God in Homer , 6 ff.; and on the meaning of the word pivot , J. Bohme, Die Seele u. das I ch im 
Homerischen Epos , 11 ff., 84 f. 

46 II . 5.125 f., 136; 16.529. 

47 That kings were once thought of as possessing a special pivot which was communicated to them in virtue of their office 
seems to be implied by the usage of the phrase itpov pivot (cf. i tp) U ), although its application in Homer (to Alcinous, Od . 
7.167 etc., to Antinous, Od . 18.34) is governed merely by metrical convenience. Cf. Pfister, P.-W., s.v. "Kultus," 2125 ff.; Snell, 
Die Entdeckung des Geistes , 35 f. 

48 Od . 24.318. 

49 Horses, II . 23.468; 0o6t pivot , Od . 3.450. At II . 17.456 Achilles' horses receive a communication of pivot . 

50 II . 6.182, 17.565. So the medical writers speak of the pivot 0 f w j ne (Hipp. acut . 63), and even the pivot of famine ( vet. 
med . 9), meaning the immanent power shown by their effects on the human organism. 




51 II . 20.242. Cf. the "Spirit of the Lord" which "came mightily upon" Samson, enabling him to do superhuman feats (Judges 
14: 6, 15: 14). 

52 1 1 . 13.59 ff. The physical transmission of power by contact is, however, rare in Homer, and in Greek belief generally, in 
contrast with the importance which has been attached in Christianity (and in many primitive cultures) to the "laying on of 
hands." 

53 II . 13.61, 75. ^ tdrfKfV i\a<{>pa. j S a recurrent formula in descriptions of communicated M 4 *' 0 * (5.122, 23.772); of. also 

17.211 f. 

54 Cf. Leafs note on 13-73. At Od . 1.323 Telemachus recognises a communication of power, we are not told exactly how. 

55 II . 12.449. Cf. Od . 13.387-391. 

56 II . 3.381: Jw , Aesch. Supp . 100: nay an OWU'Sa^Oi'iwt' ; etc. 

57 II . 5.330 ff., 850 ff. 

58 II. . 6.128 ff. 

59. II . 5.136; 10.485; 15.592. 

60 II . 15.605 ff. 

61 II . 17.210. 

62 Od . 1.89, 320 f.; cf. 3.75 f.; 6.139 f. 

63 Od . 22.347 f. Cf. Demodocus, 8.44, 498; and Pindar, Nem . 3.9, where the poet begs the Muse to grant him "an abundant 
flow of song welling from my own thought." As MacKay has put it, "The Muse is the source of the poet's originality, rather than 
his conventionality" ( The Wrath of Homer , 50). Chadwick, Growth of Literature , III. 182, quotes from Radloff a curiously exact 
primitive parallel, the Kirghiz minstrel who declared, "I can sing any song whatever, for God has implanted this gift of song in my 
heart. He gives the words on my tongue without my having to seek them. I have learned none of my songs. All springs from my 
inner self." 

64 Od . 17.518 f., Hes. Theog . 94 f. (= H. Hymn 25.2 f.). Cf. chap, iii, pp. 80 ff. 

65 On Homer's use of the term ial puy and its relationship to (which cannot be discussed here), see Nilsson in Arch. f. Rel . 
22 (1924) 363^, and Gesch. d. gr. Rel . 1.201 ff.; Wilamowitz, Glaube , 1.362 ff.; E. Leitzke, op. cit ., 42 ff. According to 
Nilsson the JaijiW*' was originally not only indeterminate but impersonal, a mere "manifestation of power ( orenda )"; but about 
this I am inclined to share the doubts expressed by Rose, Harv. Theol Rev . 28 (1935) 243 ff. Such evidence as we have 
suggests rasher that while poipa. developed from an impersonal "portion" into a personal Fate, baipw evolved in the opposite 
direction, from a personal "Apportioner" (cf. 8alw, SaiMOvij ) to an impersonal "luck." There is a point where the two 
developments cross and the words are virtually synonymous. 

66 Occasionally also to Zeus (14.273, etc.), who in such phrases is perhaps not so much an individual god as the representative 
of a generalised divine will (Nilsson, Greek Piety , 59). 

67 9.381. 

68 14.178; cf. 23.11. 

69 19.10; 19.138 f.; 9.339. 

70 2.124 f.; 4.274 f.; 12.295. 

71 19.485' Cf. 23.11, where a mistake in identification is similarly explained. 

72 15.172. 

73 12.38. 

74 14.488. 

75 If his intervention is harmful, he is usually called iatftUP f no t 0*6y . 

76 This distinction was first pointed out by O. Jorgensen, Hermes , 39 (1904) 357 ff. On exceptions to Jorgensen's rule see 
Calhoun, AJ P 61 (1940) 270 ff. 

77 Cf. the 5 alpiiiv w ho b rings unlucky or unwelcome visitors, 10.64, 24.149, 4.274 f., 17.446, and is called «a*:6i in the first two 
of these places; and the VTuytpfc iaipuy w ho causes sickness, 5.396. These passages at least are surely exceptions to 
Ehnmark's generalisation ( Anthropomorphism and Miracle , 64) that the 5aI/M»>es 0 f the Odyssey are simply unidentified 
Olympians. 

78 2.122 ff. 

79 1.384 f. 

80 1.320 ff. 

81 II . 15.461 ff. 

82 E. Heden, Homerische Gotterstudien . 

83 Nilsson, Arch. f. Rel . 22.379. 

84 The I dea of God in Homer , chap. v. Cf. also Linforth, "Named and Unnamed Gods in Herodotus," Univ. of California 
Publications in Classical Philology , IX. 7 (1928). 

85 Cf., e.g., the passages quoted by Levy-Bruhl, Primitives and the Supernatural , 22 f. 

86 II . 4.31. Cf. P. Cauer, Kunst der Uebersetzung 2 , 27. 

87 A particularly good, because particularly trivial, example of the significance attached to the unexplained is the fact that 
sneezing— that seemingly causeless and pointless convulsion— is taken as an omen by so many peoples, including the Homeric 
Greeks ( Od . 17.541), as well as those of the Classical Age (Xen. Anab . 3.3.9) and of Roman times (Plut. gen. Socr . 581 F ). 

Cf. Halliday, Greek Divination , 174 ff., and Tylor, Primitive Culture , 1.97 ff. 

88 Something analogous to a-Trt is perhaps to be seen in the state called "fey" or "fairy-struck," which in Celtic belief comes on 
people suddenly and "makes them do somewhat verie unlike their former practice" (Robert Kirk, The Secret Commonwealth ). 

89 "Gotter und Psychologie bei Homer," Arch. f. Rel . 22.363 ff. Its conclusions are summarised in his History of Greek Religion , 
122 ff. 

90 As Snell points out ( Die Entdeckung des Geistes , 45), the "superfluous" character of so many divine interventions shows 




that they were not invented simply to get the poet out of a difficulty (since the course of events would be the same without 
them), but rest on some older foundation of belief. Cauer thought ( Grundfragen , 1.401) that the "naturalness" of many Homeric 
miracles was an unconscious refinement dating from an age when the poets were ceasing to believe in miracles. But the 
unnecessary miracle is in fact typically primitive. Cf., e.g., E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the 
Azande , 77, 508; and for a criticism of Cauer, Ehnmark, Anthropomorphism and Miracle , chap. iv. 

91 E.g., II . 16.712 ff., and often. At 1 1 . 13-43 ff., the physical and (60) the psychic intervention stand side by side. No doubt 
epiphanies of gods in battle had also some basis in popular belief (the same belief which created the Angels at Mons), though, as 
Nilsson observes, in later times it is usually heroes, not gods, who appear in this way. 

92 II . 1.198. 

93 Cf. Voigt, Ueberlegung u. Entscheidung ... bei Homer , 54 ff. More often the warning is given by the god "disguised' as a 
human personage; this may derive from an older form in which the advice was given, at the monition of a god or 5tu/MiW ( by the 
personage himself (Voigt, ibid ., 63). 

94 Hdt. 2.53. Lowie has observed that the primitive artist, following his aesthetic impulse, "may come to create a type that at 
once synthesises the essentials of current belief, without contravening them in any particular, and yet at the same time adds a 
series of strokes that may not merely shade but materially alter the preexisting picture. So long as things go no further, the new 
image is no more than an individual version of the general norm. But as soon as that variant ... is elevated to the position of a 
standard representation, it becomes itself thenceforward a determinant of the popular conception." ( Primitive Religion , 267 f.) 
This refers to the visual arts, but it affords an exact description of the manner in which I conceive the Greek epic to have 
influenced Greek religion. 

95 Snell, Die Entdeckung des Geistes , chap. i. Cf. also Bohme, op. cit ., 76 ff., and W. Marg, Der Charakter i.d. Sprache der 
fruhgriechischen Dichtung , 43 ff. 

96 Od . 22. 17 

97 II . 4-43: yt 6vn& A s Pfister has pointed out (P.-W. XI. 2117 ff.), this relative independence of the affective 

element is common among primitive peoples (cf., e.g., Warneck, Religion der Batak , 8). On the weakness of the 
"ego-consciousness" among primitives see also Hans Kelsen, Society and Nature (Chicago, 1943), 8 ff. 

98 Od . 9.299 ff. Here the "ego" identifies itself originally with the first voice, but accepts the warning of the second. A similar 
plurality of voices, and a similar shift of self-identification, seems to be implicit in the curious passage 1 1 . 11.403-410 (cf. Voigt, 
op. cit ., 87 ff.). One of Dostoievsky's characters, in A Raw Youth , describes this fluctuating relation of self and not-self very 
nicely. "It's just as though one's second self were standing beside one; one is sensible and rational oneself, but the other self is 
impelled to do something perfectly senseless, and sometimes very funny; and suddenly you notice that you are longing to do 
that amusing thing, goodness knows why; that is, you want to, as it were, against your will; though you fight against it with all 
your might, you want to." 

99 E.g.,J I . 5.676: rp&Wi 9vp6 v ; 16.691: (Z«w) 0vp6v M arffltff <riviiVT)K* ; Od . 15.172: 

Oi'nu! iOavaroi (}&.\\ov<n Hence the 9vfi6s j S the organ of seership, 1 1 . 7.44, 12.228. (Cf. Aesch. Pers . 10: 

KMbjLtOPTis . . . Ovpk ; 224: Bvpipavns . A | so Eu r. Andr . 10 73: rpipafTis Ovpln , and Trag. Adesp . fr. 176: 
irTjSai*' 5’ 6 8vp6% tv&odtvpavTtutTai ,) 

100 E.g., II . 16.805: Qplva* «IXf ; || . 5.125: 7<lp toi ffriflttrci fiivos . . . . 

101 II . 9.702 f. Cf. Od . 8.44: "a god" has given Demodocus the gift of singing as his dvpbs prompts him. 

102 Cf. W. Marg, op. cit ., 69 ff.; W. Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos 33 ff. 

103 II . 24.41; Od . 9.189; Od . 3.277. 

104 II . 16.35, 356 f. 

105 The same point has been made by W. Nestle, NJ bb 1922, 137 ff., who finds the Socratic paradoxes "echt griechisch," and 
remarks that they are already implicit in the naive psychology of Homer. But we should beware of regarding this habitual 
"intellectualism" as an attitude consciously adopted by the spokesmen of an "intellectual" people; it is merely the inevitable 
result of the absence of the concept of will (cf. L. Gernet, Pensee juridique et morale , 312). 

106 A simple explanation of these terms will be found in Ruth Benedict, Tile Chrysanthemum and the Sword , 222 ff. We are 
ourselves the heirs of an ancient and powerful (though now declining) guilt-culture, a fact which may perhaps explain why so 
many scholars have difficulty in recognising that Homeric religion is "religion" at all. 

107 II . 9.315 ff. On the importance of Tipf\ in Homer see W. Jaeger, Paideia , 1.7 ff. 

108 Cf. chap, ii, pp. 29 ff. 

109 II . 22.105. Cf. 6.442, 15.561 ff., 17.91 ff.; Od . 16.75, 21.323 ff.; Wilamowitz, Glaube , 1.353 ff.; W. J. Verdenius, Mnem . 
12 (1944) 47 ff. The sanction of ai&Lf is viptvis r public disapproval: cf. 1 1 . 6.351, 13.121 f.; and Od . 2.136 f. The application 
to conduct of the terms kbA by and o.ar\pov seems also to be typical of a shame-culture. These words denote, not that the act is 
beneficial or hurtful to the agent, or that it is right or wrong in the eyes of a deity, but that it looks "handsome" or "ugly" in the 
eyes of public opinion. 

110 Once the idea of psychic intervention had taken root, it would, of course, encourage impulsive behaviour. Just as recent 
anthropologists, instead of saying, with Frazer, that primitives believe in magic because they reason faultily, are inclined to say 
that they reason faultily because they are socially conditioned to believe in magic, so, instead of saying with Nilsson that Homeric 
man believes in psychic intervention because he is impulsive, we should perhaps say rather that he gives way to his impulses 
because he is socially conditioned to believe in psychic intervention. 

111 On the importance of the fear of ridicule as a social motive see Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher , 50. 

1 1 From Shame-Culture to Guilt-Culture 

1 The Archaic Age is usually made to end with the Persian Wars, and for the purposes of political history this is the obvious 
dividing line. But for the history of thought the true cleavage falls later, with the rise of the Sophistic Movement. And even then 
the line of demarcation is chronologically ragged. In his thought, though not in his literary technique, Sophocles (save perhaps in 
his latest plays) still belongs entirely to the older world; so, in most respects, does his friend Herodotus (cf. Wilamowitz, Hermes 
, 34 [1899]; E. Meyer, Forschungen z. alt. Gesch . 11.252 ff. ; F. Jacoby, P.-W., Supp.-Band II, 479 ff.). Aeschylus, on the other 
hand, struggling as he does to interpret and rationalise the legacy of the Archaic Age, is in many ways prophetic of the new time. 




2 The feeling of iu , IX aP ^ lt is well illustrated from the early lyric poets by Snell, Die Entdeckung des Geistes , 68 ff. In the 
following pages I am especially indebted to Latte's brilliant paper, "Schuld u. Sunde i. d. gr. Religion," Arch. f. Rel . 20 
(1920-1921) 254 ff. 

3 All Herodotus' wise men know this: Solon, 1.32; Amasis, 3.40; Artabanus, 7* IOt . On the meaning of the word QObvot cf. 

Snell, Aischylos u. das Handeln im Drama , 72, n. 108; Cornford, From Religion to Philosophy , 118; and for its association with 
TtLpaxit Pind. Isthm . 7.39: ® 1’iBo.pkrwv Opaoekru <f>Qbvos . |T apboatu\ ; s regularly used of supernatural interference, e.g., 
Aesch. Cho . 289; Plato, Laws 865 E . 

4 11. 24.525-533. 

5 Semonides of Amorgos, 1.1 ff. Bergk. On the meaning of Ifopepoi se e H. Frankel, T AP A 77 (1946) 131 ff.; on that of tIKk 
F. Wehrli, AA£< piixrat ( 8, n. 4. 

6 Theognis, 133-136, 141-142. For man's lack of insight into his own situation cf. also Heraclitus, fr. 78 Diels: 

ffio s yip &vOparrtu>v\iikir o U Otiov 6k (xt«| , and for his lack of control over it, H. Apoll . 192 f., Simonides, frs. 61, 

62 Bergk; for both, Solon, 13.63 ff. This is also the teaching of Sophocles, for whom all men's generations are a nothingness— 
Ura xal t 6 pt)6kv {iicat , o.T . 1186— when we see their life as time and the gods see it; viewed thus, men are but phantoms or 
shadows ( Ajax 125). 

7 Agam . 750. 

8 The unmoralised belief is common among primitive peoples to-day (Levy-Bruhl, Primitives and the Supernatural , 45). In its 
moralised form it appears in classical China: "If you are rich and of exalted station," says theTao Te Ching (? fourth century B.C. 
), "you become proud, and thus abandon yourself to unavoidable ruin. When everything goes well, it is wise to put yourself in 
the background." It has left its mark also on the Old Testament: e.g., Isaiah 10: 12 ff., "I will punish ... the glory of his high 
looks. For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom ... Shall the ax boast itself against him that 
heweth therewith?" For the notion of , cf. Proverbs 30:8 f., "Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food 
convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord?" 

9 Od . 5.118 ff. Cf. 4.181 f.; 8.565 f. = 13.173 f.; 23.210 ff. All these are in speeches. The instances which some claim to find in 

the I liad , e.g., 17.71, are of a different type, and hardly true cases of . 

10 Pers . 353 f., 362. This is not, strictly speaking, a new development. We have noticed a similar "overdetermination" in Homer 
(chap, i, pp. 7, 16). It is common among present-day primitives: e.g., Evans-Pritchard tells us that among the Azande "belief in 
death from natural causes and belief in death from witchcraft are not mutually exclusive" ( Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic , 73). 

11 Solon, fr. 13 Bergk (cf. Wilamowitz, Sappho u. Sim . 257 ff., Wehrli, op. cit. supra , 11 ff., and R. Lattimore, AJ P 68 [1947] 
161 ff.); Aesch. Agam . 751 ff., where it is contrasted with the common view; Hdt. 1.34.1. 

12 E.g., Hdt. 7.10. Sophocles seems nowhere to moralise the idea, which appears at El . 1466, Phil . 776, and is stated as a 
general doctrine (if Ti/inKb y ’ j S right) at Ant . 613 ff. And cf. Aristophanes, Plut . 87-92, where it is argued that Zeus must 
have a special grudge against the XP T l < > TO k . 

13 For O0p4r as the TpSnov Kaxiy see Theognis, 151 f . ; for its universality, H. Apoll . 541: 

D/Uptt O’, Otpis Itrrl mToA’qrfi v Mp&rotv and Archilochus, fr. 88: ® Z*S . . . <roi Si (htploiv 6 0pit rt cal Sbnipfka. cf. 

also Heraclitus, fr. 43 D.: XP>) ofitvvbv ai paWov ffjvpKa.\i]v p or the dangers of happiness cf. Murray's remark that "It is 

a bad lookout for any one in Greek poetry when he is called 'a happy man'" ( Aeschylus , 193). 

14 I.A . 1089-1097. 

15 11. 9.456 f., 571 f.; cf. Od . 2.134 f., 11.280. It is worth noticing that three of these passages occur in narratives which we 
may suppose to be borrowed from Mainland epics, while the fourth belongs to the "Telemachy." 

16 II . 16.385 ff. On the Hesiodic character of 387-388 see Leaf ad loc .; but we need not call the lines an "interpolation" (cf. 
Latte, Arch. f. Rel . 20.259). 

17 See Arthur Platt, "Homer's Similes," J . Phil . 24 (1896) 28 ff. 

18 Those who argue otherwise seem to me to confuse the punishment of perjury as an offence against the divine Tipkf (4.158 
ff.), and the punishment of offences against hospitality by Zeus Xeinios (13.623 ff.), with a concern for justice as such. 

19 Od . 7.164 f.; 9.270 f.; 14.283 L Contrast the fate of Lycaon, II . 21.74 ff. 

20 Od . 6.207 f. 

21 Od . 1.32 ff. On the significance of this much-discussed passage see most recently K. Deichgraber, Gott. Nachr . 1940, and 
W. Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos , 24. Even if the nal in 1.33 is to be taken as "also," I cannot agree with Wilamowitiz ( Glaube 
, 11.118) that "der Dichter des a hat nichts neues gesagt." 

22 Od . 23.67: Si’ AradffaXiaj IraBov Knubv , the same word that Zeus uses at 1.34. We must, of course, remember that the 
Odyssey , unlike the Iliad , has a large fairy-tale element, and that the hero of a fairy-tale is bound to win in the end. But the 
poet who gave the story its final shape seems to have taken the opportunity to emphasise the lesson of divine justice. 

23 Theognis, 373-380, 733 ff. Cf. Hesiod, Erga 270 ff., Solon, 13.25 ff., Pindar, fr. 201 B. (213 S.). The authenticity of the 
Theognis passages has been denied, but on no very strong grounds (cf. W. C. Greene, Moira , App. 8, and Pfeiffer, Philol . 84 
[1929] 149). 

24 Poetics 1453 a 34. 

25 Solon, 13.31; Theognis, 731-742. Cf. also Sophocles, O.C . 964 ff. (where Webster, Introduction to Sophocles , 31, is surely 
mistaken in saying that Oedipus rejects the explanation by inherited guilt). For Aeschylus' attitude, see later in the present 
chapter, pp. 39 ff. Herodotus sees such deferred punishment as peculiarly fftlOP , and contrasts it with human justice {Uoiok 
), 7.137.2. 

26 Cf., e.g., the case of Achan, in which an entire household, including even the animals, is destroyed on account of a minor 
religious offence committed by one of its members (Joshua 7:24 ff.). But such mass executions were later forbidden, and the 
doctrine of inherited guilt is explicitly condemned by Jeremiah (31: 29 f.) and by Ezekiel (18: 20, "The son shall not bear the 
iniquity of the father," and the whole chapter). It appears nevertheless as a popular belief in John 9: 2, where the disciples ask, 
"Who did sin, this man or his parents , that he was born blind?" 

27 Some examples will be found in Levy-Bruhl, The "Soul" of the Primitive , chap, ii, and Primitives and the Supernatural , 212 
ff. 




28 Cf. Kaibel, Epigr. graec . 402; Antiphon, Tetral . II. 2. 10; Plutarch, ser. vind . 16, 559 D . 

29 Halt. 1.91: cf. Gernet, Recherches sur le developpement de la pensee juridique et morale en Grece , 313, who coins the word 
"chosisme" to describe this conception of |d|icpTia| . 

30 See esp. pp. 403 ff. , 604 ff. 

31 Theaet . 173 D , Rep . 364 BC . Cf. also [Lys.] 6.20; Dem. 57.27; and the implied criticism in Isocrates, Busiris 25. 

32 Laws 856 C , ^o.rpin ivuir) nal rtpuptat Taliwt' prjbtvl cvvlrtaBax xh is, however, is subject to exception (856 D ); and 
the heritability of religious guilt is recognised in connection with the appointment of priests (759 C ), and with sacrilege (854 B , 
where I take the guilt to be that of the Titans, cf. infra , chap, v, n. 133). 

33 Plus. ser. vind . 19, 561 C ff. If we can believe Diog. Laertius (4.46), Bion had every reason to be bitter about the doctrine of 
inherited guilt: he and his whole family had been sold into slavery on account of an offence committed by his father. His reductio 
ad absurdum of family solidarity has its parallels in actual practice: see Levy-Bruhl, The "Soul" of the Primitive , 87, and 
Primitive Mentality , 417. 

34 Theognis, 147; Phocyl. 17. Justice is the daughter of Zeus (Hesiod, Erga 256; Aesch. Sept . 662) or his T&ptSpot (Pindar, Ol . 
8.21; Soph. O.C . 1382). Cf. the Presocratic interpretation of natural law as Jlxij , which has been studied by H. Kelsen, Society 
and Nature , chap, v, and by G. Vlastos in a penetrating paper, CP 42 (1947) 156 ff. This emphasis on justice, human, natural, 
or supernatural, seems to be a distinctive mark of guilt-cultures. The nature of the psychological connection was indicated by 
Margaret Mead in an address to the International Congress on Mental Health in 1948: "Criminal law which metes out due 
punishment for proved crimes is the governmental counterpart of the type of parental authority which develops the sort of 
internalised parent image conducive to a sense of guilt." It is probably significant that in the I liad3l*on»f occurs only thrice, and 
perhaps only once means "just." 

35 II . 15.12; 16.431 ff.; 19.340 ff.; 17.441 ff. 

36 Cf. Rohde, Kl. Schriften , 11.324; P. J. Koets, Aeta*Aa*/ioWa ; js ff. A<icrU?ecr occurs in Attica as a proper name from the sixth 

century onwards (Kirchner, Prosopographia Attica , s.v.). is not attested until the fourth ( Hesperia 9 [1940] 62). 

37 L.-S. (and Campbell Bonner, Harv. Theol. Rev . 30 [1937] 122) are mistaken in attributing an active sense to dto>pi\C)t a t 
Isocrates 4.29. The context shows that the reference is to Demeter's love of Athens, 

rp6 1 rout rpoyivous itp&v tbptvwt hartdtltxrjr ( 28 ). 

38 M.M . 1208 b 30: &TOTOV Trip Ay thf it Tit $ab) <*n\tlv riy Ala . The possibility of ^tMa between man and God was denied 
also by Aristotle, E.N . 1159 a 5 ff. But we can hardly doubt that the Athenians loved their goddess: cf. Aesch. Eum . 999: 

to pdfaov </>i\ar<£iXoi anc ] Solon 4.3 f. The same relationship of absolute trust exists in the Odyssey between Athena and 
Odysseus (see esp. Od . 13.287 ff.). No doubt it derives ultimately from her original function as a protectress of Mycenaean 

kings (Nilsson, Minoan-Mycenaean Religion 2 , 491 ff.). 

39 That Homer knows anything of magical *AAapcir is denied by Stengel ( Hermes , 41.241) and others. But that the 
purifications described at 1 1 . 1.314 and at Od . 22.480 ff. are thought of as cathartic in the magical sense seems fairly clear, in 
the one case from the disposal of the \0parn , in the other from the description of the brimstone as *a kSiv Akqi . Cf. Nilsson, 
Gesch . 1.82 f. 

40 Od . 15.256 ff.; Antiphon, de caede Herodis 82 f. For the older attitude cf. also Hesiod, fr. 144. 

41 Od . 11.275 f.; II . 23.679 f. Cf. Aristarchus, S A on Iliad 13.426 and 16.822; Hesiod, Erga 161 ff.; Robert, Oidipus , 1.115. 

42 Cf. L. Deubner, "Oedipusprobleme," Abh. Akad. Berl . 1942, No. 4. 

43 The infectious character of placrpa is first attested by Hesiod, Erga 240. The leges sacrae of Cyrene (Solmsen, Inscr. Gr. dial 

. 4 No. 39) include detailed prescriptions about its extent in individual cases; for the Attic law cf. Dem . 20.158. That it was still 
commonly accepted in the Classical Age appears from such passages as Aesch. Sept . 597 ff., Soph. O.C . 1482 f., Eur. I .T . 

1229, Antiph. Tetr . 1.1.3, Lys. 13.79. Euripides prorated against it, Her . 1233 f., I.T . 380 ff.; but Plato would still debar from 
all religious or civic activities all individuals who have had voluntary contact, however slight, with a polluted person, until they 
have been purified ( Laws 881 DE ). 

44 The distinction was first clearly stated by Rohde, Psyche (Eng. trans.), 294 ff. The mechanical nature of plwpa is evident not 
only from its infectiousness but from the puerile devices by which it could be avoided: of. Soph. Ant . 773 ff., with Jebb's note, 
and the Athenian practice of putting criminals to death by self-administered hemlock. 

45 The Psychological Frontiers of Society , 439. 

46 See F. Zucker's interesting lecture, Syneidesis-Conscientia (Jenaer Akademische Reden, Heft 6, 1928). It is, I think, 
significant that side by side with the old objective words for religious guilt dfi-yos, pl<LCpa\ 

) we meet for the first time in the later 

years of the fifth century a term for the consciousness of such guilt (whether as e scruple about incurring it or as remorse for 
guilt already incited). This term is IvBbpwv (or Ml/fila f Thuc. 5.16.1), a word long in use to describe anything "weighing on 
one's spirits," but used by Herodotus, Thucydides, Antiphon, Sophocles, and Euripides with specific reference to the sense of 
religious guilt (Wilamowitz on Heracles 722; Hatch, Harv. Stud, in Class. Phil . 19.172 ff.). Democritus has tyic&p6iov j n the same 
sense (fr. 262). The specific usage is practically confined to this particular period; it vanished, as Wilamowiz says, with the 
decline of the old beliefs, whose psychological correlate it was. 

47 Eur. Or . 1602-1604, Ar. Ran . 355, and the well-known Epidaurian inscription (early fourth century?) quoted by 
Theophrastus, apud Porph. abst . 2.19, which defines lAywla as 4>povtiv 6cie. (j neglect Epicharmus, fr. 26 Diels, which I 
cannot believe to be genuine.) As Rohde pointed out ( Psyche , ix, n. 80), the shift of standpoint is well illustrated by Eur. Hipp . 
316-318, where by Ipiaapa (f/ptvi jj Phaedra means impure thought, but the Nurse understands the phrase as referring to 

magical attack (plaapacan be imposed by cursing, e.g., Solmsen, Inscr. Gr. dial . 4 6.29). The antithesis between hand and 
heart may in fact have involved at first merely the contrast between an external and an internal physical organ, but since the 
latter was a vehicle of consciousness its physical pollution became also a moral pollution (Festugiere, La Saintete , 19 f.). 

48 Art. xAAaptfif , p.-w., Supp.-Band VI (this article provides the best analysis I have seen of the religious ideas associated with 
purification). On the original fusion of "objective" and "subjective" aspects, and the eventual distinction of the latter from the 
former, see also Gernet, Pensee juridique et morale , 323 f. 

49 Cf. for example the cathartic sacrifice to Zeus Meilichios at the Diasia, which we are told was offered 

ptrA rivet OTvyv&TTjTot ( s Lucian, Icaromen . 24)— not exactly "in a spirit of contrition," but "in an atmosphere of gloom" 




created by the sense of divine hostility. 

50 The evidence about the Locrian Tribute, and references to earlier discussions of it, will be found in Farnell, Hero Cults , 294 ff. 
Cf. also Parke, Hist, of the Delphic Oracle , 331 ff. To a similar context of ideas belongs the practice of "dedicating" (St/tartfrttX ) 
a guilty people to Apollo. This meant enslaving them and pastoralising their land; it was carried out in the case of Crisa in the 
sixth century, and was threatened against the Medizers in 479 and against Athens in 404. (Cf. Parke, Hermathena , 72 [1948] 

82 ff.) 

51 Eur. Hipp . 276. 

52 9vpin t Aesch. Sept . 686, Soph. Ant . 1097; , Aesch. Supp . 850, Soph. Ant . 623. 

53 Aesch. Cho . 382 f. (Zeus); Soph. Aj . 363, 976 (the madness sent by Athena is called an drij ). 

54 Aesch. Eum . 372 ff. Cf. Soph. Ant . 603, and \Epivbtt (j. e ., t rotoOatu ) j n an Attic defixio (Wunsch, Defix. 

Tab. Att . 108). 

55 So perhaps Soph. Trach . 849 f. And cf. Herodotus' conception of disastrous decisions as predetermined by the destiny of the 

person who takes them: 9.109.2: U Ktuut ttu xavotKlp ytvloQax f rpdt ra Ora <I« Sipfr «rX ; i. 8 .2, 2.161.3, 

6.135.3. 

56 Panyassis, fr. 13.8 Kinkel. 

57 Erga 214 ff. 

58 Theognis, 205 f. 

59 Aesch. Pers . 1037, Soph. Aj . 307. 

60 Theognis, 133, Aesch. Cho . 825 f., Soph. O.C . 92; Soph. Ant . 185 f. In Dorian law dnj seems to have become completely 
secularized as a term for any legal penalty: leg. Gortyn . 11.34 ( GDI 4991). 

61 Eur. Tro . 530 (cf. Theognis, 119); Soph. Ant . 533. Soph. O.C . 532 is different; there Oedipus calls his daughters fir<U as 

being the fruits of his own fira ( 526 ). 

62 Compare the extension of usage by which the words ; ra \apvaiot, xpoaTpdraiOf ( were applied not only to the 

guilty man but to the supernatural being who punishes him. (Cf. W. H. P. Hatch, Harv. Stud, in Class. Phil . 19 [1908] 157 ff.)— 
pivot finjf ( Aesch. Cho . 1076. 

63 In Leocratem 92. Cf. the similar anonymous yvispn 

quoted by Sophocles, Ant . 620 ff. 

64 Theognis, 402 ff. 

65 Aesch. Pers . 354 (cf. 472, 724 f.); contrast 808, 821 f. The divine ixinf, is thus for Aeschylus 2l*ala (fr. 301). In his 
condemnation of those who make gods the cause of evil Plato included Aeschylus, on the strength of Niobe's words: 

Pt&t plr airtav fbti fiporoi^ r 6rav tax Stoat tupa rapTifav WXp ( fr . i 56 , apud PI. Rep . 380 A ). But he omitted to quote 
the li clause, which contained— as we now know from the Niobe papyrus, D. L. Page, Greek Litany Papyri , 1. 1, p. 8— a warning 
against P’) Opaovaroptiv Here, as elsewhere, Aeschylus carefully recognised man's contribution to his own fate. 

66 Aesch. Agam . 1486; cf. 160 ff., 1563 f. 

67 Ibid ., 1188 ff., 1433, 1497 ff. 

68 Hdt. 6.135.3. 

69 Glotz, Solidarity , 408; K. Deichgraber, Gott. Nachr . 1940. 

70 Eur. Med . 122-130. Phaedra too ascribes her state to Salpovot&nj / Hipp . 241. And we know from a treatise in the 
Hippocratic, corpus ( Virg . I, VIII. 466 L.), that mental disturbance often showed itself in dreams or visions of angry daemons. 

71 Aeschin. in Ctes . 117. Aeschines knew that he was living in a strange, revolutionary time, when the old centres of power 
were giving place to new ones ( ibid ., 132), and this inclined him, like Herodotus, to see the hand of God everywhere. Thus he 
speaks of the Thebans as 7* Oto$\&{luav tea Z rijv 6.<*>pcxrvirp> oCk it itlpmhmitiXkt Saipovlut tcnprbptvot ( ibid ., 133). 

72 Theognis, 637 f . ; Soph. Ant . 791 f. On 'EXxtf see Wehrli, /it$fPl£><T0.t , 6 ff. 

73 H. and H. A. Frankfort, The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man , 17. 

74 Sem. Amorg. 7.102; Soph. O.T . 28. Cf. also chap, iii, n. 14, and on similar Indian beliefs Keith, Rel. and Phil, of Veda and 
Upanishads , 240. 

75 For the view of the modern Athenian see Lawson, Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion , 21 ff. For bloodguilt 
projected as an Erinys cf. Aesch. Cho . 283: ^poofio\bt EpirbuP Ik tup varpipuvalp&TUP riXovpivat # with Verral ad loc; ibid. 
, 402; Antiphon, Tetral . 3.1.4. 

76 Soph. Ant . 603. Cf. the verb Saipoyar , used both of "haunted" places ( Cho . 566) and of "possessed" persons ( Sept . 

1001, Phoen . 888). 

77 Eur. Or . 395 ff. If letters VII and VIII are genuine, even Plato believed in objective beings who punish bloodguilt: VII. 336 B : 

% t ov Tif talpwv % Tit 6.\iT~qpiot lpxt<ruv ( c f 326 E ); VIII. 357 A : to’ucai iptvbtt inukvOiXP . 

78 Hesiod, Erga 314: 5’ olot fcjafla, rd lpyb$te0ai iptivov and phocylides, fr. 15. 

79 See chap, i, p. 6. Side by side with the more personal bolpuv t the Homeric notion of an individual poipo also lived on, and is 
common in tragedy. Cf. Archilochus, fr. 16: xbvra rbx^ *al poip a , IltpUXetr, bvSpl MSumr , Aesch. Agam . 1025 ff., Cho . 
103 f., etc.; Soph. O.T . 376, 713 etc.; Pind. Nem . 5.40: ***?•* H “pbii <nrfYtyfllipyuP xepl t&vtup f anc j p| at0 , Gorg . 512 

E : TiOTtboavra. Ta.'itV )Val i l * *" ^ tlpapphn\v obi’ «It Utfr yot The Ho meric phrase Gai-Arou (-oto) poip a 

reappears in Aeschylus, Pers . 917, Agam . 1462. Sometimes poipa a nd lalpwv ar e combined: Ar. Thesm . 1047: 

polpat ireyKTt Salpur (tragic parody); Lys. 2.78: * boipup 6 rilv ilperipav poipap . 

80 (the religious interpretation) and T&ICT (the profane or noncommittal view) are not felt to be mutually exclusive, and 
are in fact often coupled: Ar. Av . 544: Hard Jaljiwa Kal <rura> OVPTVxlaPAyaWiP , L ys. 13.63: rbxv d Jaipur , [Dem.] 
48.24, Aeschin. in Ctes . 115, Aristotle, fr. 44. Eur., however, distinguishes them as alternatives (fr. 901.2). In the concept of 
f?<ia ri/XV (Soph. Phil . 1326, and often in Plato) chance regains the religious value which primitive thought assigns to it (chap, 
i, n. 25). 




81 Theognis, 161-166. 

82 Hdt. 1.8.2. Cf. n. 55 above. 

83 Pindar, Pyth . 5.122 f. But he does not always thus mortise the popular belief. Cf. 01 . 13.105, where the "luck" of the 
is projected as a 8aln«r . 

84 The Stoic &o-lfu>>v comes even closer to Freud's conception than the Platonic: he is, as Bonhoffer put it ( Epiktet , 84), "the 
ideal as contrasted with the empirical personality"; and one of his principal functions is to punish the ego for its carnal sins (cf. 
Heinze, Xenokrates , 130 f.; Norden, Virgil's Aeneid VI , pp. 32 f.). Apuleius, d. Socr . 16, makes the daemon reside in ipsis 
penitissimis mentibus vice conscientiae . 

85 Phaedo 107 D ; Rep . 617 DE , 620 DE (where Plato avoids the fatalism of the popular view by making the soul choose its 
own guide); Tim . 90 A - C (discussed below, chap, vii, pp. 213 f.). 

86 Cf. M. Ant. 2.13, with Farquharson's note; Plut. gen. Socr . 592 BC ; Plot. 2.4; Rohde, Psyche , XIV, n. 44; J. Kroll, Lehren 
des Flermes Trismegistos , 82 ff. Norden, loc. cit ., shows how the idea was taken over by Christian writers. 

87 Fr. Pfister, P.-W., Supp.-Band VI, 159 f. Cf. his Religion d. Griechen u. Romer (Bursian's Jahresbericht, 229 [1930]), 219. 

88 The evidence about the $ap^a»of ; s conveniently assembled in Murray's Rise of the Greek Epic , App. A. In regarding the rite 
as primarily cathartic I follow Deubner, Attische Feste , 193 ff., and the Greeks themselves. For a summary of other opinions see 
Nilsson, Gesch . 1.98 f. 

89 P.-W., Supp.-Band VI, 162. 

90 Cf. Nilsson, Gesch . 1.570 if., and Diels, "Epimenides yon Kreta," Berl. Sitzb . 1891, 387 ff. 

91 Some scholars would attribute the peculiarities of archaic as compared with Flomeric religion to the resurgence of pre-Greek 
"Minoan" ideas. This may well prove to be true in certain cases. But most of the traits which I have stressed in this chapter seem 
to have Indo-European roots, and we should therefore hesitate, I think, to invoke "Minoan religion" in this context. 

92 As Malinowski puts it, when a man feels himself impotent in a practical situation, "whether he be savage or civilised, whether 
in possession of magic or entirely ignorant of its existence, passive inaction, the only thing dictated by reason, is the last thing in 
which he can acquiesce. His nervous system and his whole organism drive him to some substitute activity.... The substitute 
action in which the passion finds its vent, and which is due to impotence, has subjectively all the virtue of a real action, to which 
emotion would, if not impeded, naturally have led" ( Magic, Science and Religion ). There is some evidence that the same 
principle holds good for societies: e.g., Linton (in A. Kardiner, The I ndividual and His Society , 287 ff.) reports that among the 
effects produced by a grave economic crisis among certain of the Tanala tribes in Madagascar were a great increase in 
superstitious fears and the emergence of a belief in evil spirits, which had previously been lacking. 

93 Plut. Apophth. Lac . 223 A . 

94 E.g., Hesiod, Erga 5 f.; Archilochus, fr. 56; Solon, frs. 8, 13-75; Aesch. Sept . 769 if., Agam . 462 ff.; etc. 

95 Murray, Rise of the Greek Epic 4 , 90; cf. 1 1 . 5.9, 6.14, 13.664, and Od . 18.126 f. This is the attitude to be expected in a 

shame-culture; wealth brings TtHV ( Od . 1.392, 14.205 f.). It was still so in Hesiod's day, and (conscious though he was of the 
attendant dangers) he used the fact to reinforce his gospel of work: Erga 313: ’ d p«T^ xal «v3or 

96 For the evidence see Glotz, Solidarity , 31 ff. 

97 Arist. Pol . 1.2, 1252 b 20: T ® <ra 7*P 0a<nXft«T«u ford row rpar/fordrov . C f. E.N . 1161 a 18: 

$hjh dpxudp Tan)p vlar . . • Kai paji\(vs^aji\ox)nhuv . piato uses stronger terms; he speaks of the proper status of the 
young as **rpd% tal pijrpdt *al Tpea/WpurJovXtla* ( Laws 701 B ). 

98 Eur. Hipp . 971 ff., 1042 ff. (Hippolytus expects death rather than banishment); Alcmaeonis , fr. 4 Kinkel (apud [Apollod.] 

Bibl . 1.8.5); Eur. Or . 765 ff.; II . 1.590 ff. The myths suggest that in early times banishment was the necessary consequence of 
dTOK^pv^ir ( a ru |e which Plato proposed to restore ( Laws 928 E ). 

99 Cf. Glotz, op. cit ., 350 ff. 

100 Plato, Laws 878 DE , 929 A - C . 

101 Honouring one's parents comes next in the scale of duties after fearing the gods: Pind. Pyth . 6.23 ff. and S ad loc .; Eur. fr. 
853; Isocr. 1.16; Xen. Mem . 4.4.19 f., etc. For the special supernatural sanctions attaching to offences against parents see 1 1 . 
9-456 f. ; Aesch. Eum . 269 ff.; Eur. frs. 82, 852; Xen. Mem . 4.4.21; Plato, Euthyphro 15 D ; Phaedo 114 A ; Rep . 615 C ; 

Laws 872 E and esp. 880 E ff.; also Paus. 10.28.4; Orph. fr. 337 Kern. For the feelings of the involuntary parricide cf. the story 
of Althaimenes, Diod. 5.59 (but it should be noticed that, like Oedipus, he is eventually heroised). 

102 The story of Phoenix, like the rest of his speech in II . 9 (432-605), seems to reflect rather late Mainland conditions: cf. 
chap, i, p. 6. The other stories are post-Homeric (Oedipus' curse first in the Thebais , frs. 2 and 3 K.; cf. Robert, Oidipus , I. 
169 ff.). Plato still professes belief in the efficacy of a parent's curse, Laws 931 C, E . 

103 Plato, Rep . 377 E -378 B . The Kronos myth has, as we should expect, parallels of a sort in many cultures; but one parallel, 
with the Hurrian-Hittite Epic of Kumarbi, is so close and detailed as strongly to surest borrowing (E. Forrer, Mel. Cumont , 690 
ff.; R. D. Barnett, J HS 65 [1945] 100 f . ; H. G. Guterbock, Kumarbi [Zurich, 1946], 100 ff.). This does not diminish its 
significance: we have to ask in that case what feelings induced the Greeks to give this monstrous Oriental phantasy a central 
place in their divine mythology. It is often— and perhaps rightly— thought that the "separation" of Ouranos from Gaia 
mythologises an imagined physical separation of sky from earth which was originally one with it (cf. Nilsson, Hist, of Greek 
Religion , 73). But the father-castration motive is hardly a natural, and certainly not a necessary, element in such a myth. I find 
its presence in the Hittite and Greek theogonies difficult to explain otherwise than as a reflex of unconscious human desires. 
Confirmation of this view may perhaps be seen in the birth of Aphrodite from the severed member of the old god (Hesiod, Theog 
. 188 ff.), which can be read as symbolising the son's attainment of sexual freedom through removal of his father-rival. What is 
certain is that in the Classical Age the Kronos stories were frequently appealed to as a precedent for unfilial conduct: cf. Aesch. 
Eum . 640 ff.; Ar. Nub . 904 ff., Av . 755 ff.; Plato, Euthyphro 5 E -6 A . 

104 The figure of the irarpaXoiar seems to have fascinated the imagination of the Classical Age: Aristophanes brings him on the 
stage in person, Av . 1337 ff., and shows him arguing his case, Nub . 1399 ff.; for Plato he is the stock example of wickedness ( 
Gorg . 456 D , Phd . 113 E fin ., etc.). It is tempting to see in this something more than a reflex of sophistic controversies, or of 
a particular "conflict of generations" in the late fifth century, though these no doubt helped to throw the Tarpa^olat into 
prominence. 

105. Plato, Rep . 571 C ; Soph. O.T . 981 f.; Hdt. 6.107.1. That undisguised Oedipus dreams were likewise common in later 




antiquity, and that their significance was much debated by the bf(ipoKpiTio>l ; appears from the unpleasantly detailed discussion 
of them in Artemidorus, 1.79. It may be thought that this implies a less deep and rigorous repression of incestuous desires than 
is usual in our own society. Plato, however, specifically testifies, not only that incest was universally regarded as 
aloxpZv alaxicrov ( but that most people were completely unconscious of any impulse towards it ( Laws 838 B ). It seems that 
we ought rather to say that the necessary disguising of the forbidden impulse was accomplished, not within the dream itself, but 
by a subsequent process of interpretation, which gave it an innocuous symbolic meaning. Ancient writers do, however, also 
mention what would now be called disguised Oedipus dreams, e.g., the dream of plunging into water (Hipp. Tt Pl 4 . 90 , 

VI. 658 Littre). 

106 Cf. S. Luria, "Vater und Sohne in den neuen literarischen Papyri," Aegyptus , 7 (1926) 243 ff., a paper which contains an 
interesting collection of evidence on family relations in the Classical Age, but seems to me to exaggerate the importance of 
intellectual influences, and in particular that of the sophist Antiphon. 

107 G. M. Calhoun, "Zeus the Father in Homer," TAPA 66 (1935) 1 ff. Conversely, later Greeks thought it right to treat one's 

parent "like a god": ^ lityuTTOt roit foovovmv ©l yovtit (Dicaeogenes, fr. 5 Nauck); IcoOkm npdi yifiw 

(Menander, fr. 805 K.). 

108 The doctrine of divine has often been regarded as a simple projection of the resentment felt by the unsuccessful 

against the eminent (cf. the elaborate but monomaniac book of Ranulf). There is no doubt a measure of truth in this theory. 
Certainly divine and human fObvt have much in common, e.g., both work through the Evil Eye. But passages like Hdt. 7.46.4: 

6 5t 8tdt yKuKvty*b<ras rd 9 aluva QOovtp&t t* ainty ibpUruriu luv t0 my m j nc ] point in a different direction. They recall rather 
Piaget's observation that "children sometimes think the opposite from what they want, as if reality made a point of failing their 
desires " (quoted by A. R. Burn, The World of Hesiod , 93, who confirms the statement from his own experience). Such a state of 
mind is a typical by-product of a guilt-culture in which domestic discipline is severe and repressive. It may easily persist in adult 
life and find expression in quasi-religious terms. 

109 Rohde called attention to the similarity between Greek ideas about pollution and purification and those of early India ( 

Psyche , chap, ix, n. 78). Cf. Keith, Religion and Philosophy of Veda and Upanishads , 382 ff., 419 f.; and for Italy, H. J. Rose, 
Primitive Culture in Italy , 96 ff., Ill ff., and H. Wagenvoort, Roman Dynamism (Eng. trans., 1947), chap. v. 

110 I am tempted also to suggest that Aristotle's preference among tragic subjects for deeds of horror committed 

rail ^iXlair ( poet . 1453 b 19), and among these for stories where the criminal act is prevented at the last moment by an 

l&yaTy&pioiil (1454 3 4 ), is unconsciously determined by their greater effectiveness as an abreaction of guilt-feelings— especially 
as the second of these preferences stands in flat contradiction to his general view of tragedy. On catharsis as abreaction see 
below, chap, iii, pp. 76, 78. 

111 See especially Kardiner's books, The I ndividual and His Society and The Psychological Frontiers of Society ; also Clyde 
Kluckhohn, "Myths and Rituals: A General Theory," Harv. Theol. Rev . 35 (1942) 74 ff., and S. de Grazia, The Political 
Community (Chicago, 1948). 

112 See Latte's excellent remarks, Arch. f. Rel . 20.275 ff. As he points out, the religious consciousness is not only patient of 
moral paradoxes, but often perceives in them the deepest revelation of the tragic meaning of life. And we may remind ourselves 
that this particular paradox has played an important part in Christianity: Paul believed that "whom He will He hardeneth" (Rom. 

9: 18), and the Lord's Prayer includes the petition "Lead us not into temptation" Ttipcffftip ). Cf. Rudolph 

Otto's remark that "to the religious men of the Old Covenant the Wrath of God, so far from being a diminution of his Godhead, 
appears as a natural expression of it, an element of 'holiness' itself, and a quite indispensable one" ( The I dea of the Holy , 18). I 
believe this to be equally true of men like Sophocles. And the same formidable "holiness" can be seen in the gods of archaic and 
early classical art. As Professor C. M. Robertson has said in his recent inaugural lecture (London, 1949), "they are conceived 
indeed in human form, but their divinity is humanity with a terrible difference. To these ageless, deathless creatures ordinary 
humans are as flies to wanton boys, and this quality is conveyed in their statues, at any rate far down into the fifth century." 

113 Soph. Ant . 583 ff. The version which follows attempts to reproduce the significant placing of the recurrent key word dnf r 
and also some of the metrical effects, but cannot reproduce the sombre magnificence of the original. For several turns of phrase 
I am indebted to a gifted pupil, Miss R. C. Collingwood. 

1 1 1 The Blessings of Madness 

1 Plato, Phaedrus 244 A . 

2 Ibid ., 244 B : tup tolXoiup ol rd ipdftara rUHpipoi olt aLrxpirfaovrTO Mk Svtiioi parlay f which j mp |j es that people 
nowadays do think it ulcxpdv . Hippocrates, morb. sacr . 12, speaks of the aloxOrr} felt by epileptic. 

3 Ibid ., 265 A . 

4 I bid ., 265 B . Cf. the fuller description of the first three types, 244 A -245 A . 

5 See below, chap, vii, p. 218. 

6 Hdt. 6.84 (of. 6.75.3). 

7 Hdt. 3.33. Cf. also Xen. Mem . 3.12.6. 

8 Caelius Aurelianus, de morbis chronicis , 1.5 = Dials, Vorsokr . 31 A 98. Cf. A. Delatte, Les Conceptions de I'enthousiasme chez 
les philosophes presocratiques , 21 ff. But it is impossible to be sure that the doctrine goes back to Empedocles himself. 

9 O. Weinreich, Menekrates Zeus und Salmoneus (Tiibinger Beitrage zur Altertumswissenschaft, 18). 

10 On the confusion of epilepsy with possession in popular thought at various perils see O. Temkin's comprehensive historical 
monograph, The Falling Sickness (Baltimore, 1945), 15 ff., 84 ff., 138 ff. Many of the highly coloured mediaeval and Renaissance 
descriptions of "demoniacs" are garnished with symptoms characteristic of epilepsy, e.g., the tonic projecting "like an elephant's 
trunk," "prodigiously large, long, and hanging down out of her mouth"; the body "tense and rigid all over, with his feet touching 
his head," "bent backwards like a bow"; and the involuntary discharge of urine at the end of the fit (T. K. Oesterreich, 

Possession, Demoniacal and Other , Eng. trans., 1930, pp. 18, 22, 179, 181, 183). All these were known to rationalist Greek 
physicians as symptoms of epilepsy: see Aretaeus, de causis et signis acutorum morborum , p. 1 ff. Kuhn (who also mentions 
the feeling of being beaten). 

11 Cf. Hdt. 4.79.4: d 9fdt ^afifidpu f and the adjs. WftQdXlfTT Of t St&ksfTnx f etc. ; Cumont, L'Egypte des astrologues , 

169, n. 2. But ^rlX^rTOsI is already used in the de morbo sacro without religious implication. Aretaeus, op. cit ., 73 K., gives four 




reasons why epilepsy was called t«p A vbavt . ( a ) |Soclu yip to la* b rijv <r<X^r|A>aTpouyt d^iocTofla* $ fowtot ( a 

Hellenistic theory, cf. Temkin, op. cit 9 f., 90 ff.); ( b ) # piytOof tow iteucov- UpA* ^Ap tA P<T«. ; ( c ) 

K l^KK olnc Mpurlmis AXXA (c f. morb. sacr . 1, VI. 352.8 Littre); ( d ) <5 ialfiovos Mfrf b T 6v Mputro* loblov . The 

last was probably the original reason; but popular thinking on such matters has always been vague and confused. Plato, who did 
not believe in the supernatural character of epilepsy, nevertheless defended the term vbaot ( on the ground that it affects 
the head, 

12 Morton Prince, The Dissociation of a Personality . Cf. also P. Janet, L'Automatisme psychologique ; A. Binet, Les Alterations de 
la personnalite ; Sidis and Goodhart, Multiple Personality ; F. W. H. Myers, Human Personality , chap. ii. The significance of these 
cases for the understanding of ancient ideas of possession has been emphasised by E. Bevan, Sibyls and Seers , 135 f., and was 
already appreciated by Rohde ( Psyche , App. viii). 

13 Cf. Seligman, J RAI 54 (1924) 261: "'among the more primitive folk of whom I have personal knowledge... I have observed a 
more or less widespread tendency to ready dissociation of personality." 

14 Sleepwalking is referred to in the de morbo sacro (c. 1, VI. 354. 7 Littre), and is said to be caused, in the opinion of the 

magical healers, by Hecate and the dead ( ibid ., 362.3); the ghosts take possession of the living body which its owner leaves 
unoccupied during sleep. Cf. trag. adesp . 375: tpivTacrpa \dcyltit ^EjcAtij* KUfior Mifai . For the supernatural 

origin of fever cf. the fever-daemons ’HtiAXjji r Ti<pvt r EuAxar (Didymus apud S Ar. Vesp . 1037); the temple of Febris at 
Rome, Cic. N.D. 3.63, Pliny, N.H. 2.15; and supra , chap, ii, n. 74. 

15 Cf. Oesterreich, op. cit ., 124 ff. 

16 Od . 18.327. In the Iliad , on the other hand, such expressions as^C M ol irloxot rXitTV foiv<x r (13.394) imply nothing 
supernatural: the driver's temporary condition of stupefied terror has a normal human cause. At 1 1 . 6.200 ff., Bellerophon is 
perhaps thought of as mentally afflicted by the gods, but the language used is very vague. 

17 Od . 20.377. Apoll. Soph. Lex. Horn . 73.30 Bekker explains Mpcurrof as M»XtJ*roi| , Hesychius as IMXiflTwl . cf. W. 
Havers, Indogerm. Forschungen , 25 (1909) 377 f. 

18 Od . 9.410 ff. Cf. 5.396: vrvytpbt 3/ ol ?xP at i&lpu* (in a simile); there, however, the illness seems to be physical. 

19 See B. Schmidt, Volksleben der Neugriechen , 97 f. 

20 Hipp. morb. sacr . 18 (VI.394.9ff. Littre). Cf. acr. aq. loc . 22 (11.76.16 ff. L.), which is perhaps the work of the same author 
(Wilamowitz, Berl. Sitzb . 1901, i. 16); and flat . 14 (VI. 110 L.). But even medical opinion was not unanimous on this question. 
The author of the Hippocratic Prognostikon seems to believe that certain diseases have "something divine" about them (c. 1, 

II. 112. 5 L.). Despite Nestle, Griech, Studien , 522 f., this seems to be a different view from that of morb. sacr .: "divine" 
diseases are a special class which it is important for the physician to recognise (because they are incurable by human means). 
And the magical treatment of epilepsy never in fact died out: e.g. [Dem.] 25.80 refers to it; and in late antiquity Alexander of 
Tralles says that amulets and magical prescriptions are used by "some" in treating this malady, not without success (1.557 
Puschmann). 

21 The slave's question, Ar. Vesp . 8: 4X V $ rO-pa^pwtU irtiv t, KopvPum^ ; perhaps implies a distinction between "natural" 
and "divine" madness. But the difference between xapa^pomr and KQpvpamav may be merely one of degree, milder mental 
disturbance being attributed to the Corybantes ( infra , pp. 77 ff.). 

22 Ar. Aves 524 f. (cf. Plautus, Poenulus 527); Theophr. Char . 16 (28 J.) 14; Pliny, N.H. 28.4.35, "despuimus comitiales 
morbos, hoc est, contagia regerimus"; and Plautus, Captivi 550 ff. 

23 "Mental derangement, which appears to me to be exceedingly common among the Greek peasants, sets the sufferer not 
merely apart from his fellows but in a sense above them. His utterances are received with a certain awe, and so far as they are 
intelligible are taken as predictions" (Lawson, Mod. Greek Folklore and Anc. Greek Religion , 299). On the prophetic gifts 
attributed to epileptics see Temkin, op. cit ., 149 ff. 

24 Soph. Ajax 243 f. It is a widespread belief among primitives that persons in abnormal mental states speak a special "divine" 
language; cf., e.g., Oesterreich, op. cit ., 232, 272; N. K. Chadwick, Poetry and Prophecy , 18 f., 37 f. Compare also the 
pseudo-languages spoken by certain automatists and religious enthusiasts, who are often said, like Ajax, to have learned them 
from "the spirits" (E. Lombard, De la glossolalie chez les premiers Chretiens et les phenomenes, similaires , 25 ff.). 

25 Soph. O.T. 1258: XwfftSw A a£r<£ Aai/iAraT Adowl Tii . The Messenger goes on to say that Oedipus was "led" to the 
right place (1260, <*« tylVIT oC T iw ); in other words, he is credited with a temporary clairvoyance of supernatural origin. 

26 Plato, Tim . 71 E . Cf. Aristotle, div. p. somn . 464 a 24: Wovt TyFAwraTUfWP vpoopav . 

27 Heraclitus, fr 92 d. : 2l0»XXa il paivopbtp aripau iylKacra ml 

dmXXdmoTa i cal ipl/piara tfiyyofiivr) x*Xiw irw i$ta>UTU hi. tAf 9t6v The con text of the fragment in 

Plutarch ( Pyth. or . 6, 397 A ) makes it practically certain that the words Sift Tdvftbv are part of the citation, and that the god in 
question is Apollo (cf. Delatte, Conceptions de I'enthousiasme , 6, n. 1). 

28 Psyche , Eng. trans., 260, 289 ff. 

29 Rohde's view is stir taken for granted, e.g., by Hopfner in P.-W., s.v. ■ e. Fascher, IIpo^TT)! ( 66; W. Nestle, Vom 

Mythos zum Logos , 60; Oesterreich, Possession , 311. Contra : Farnell, Cults , IV. 190 ff.; Wilamowitz, Glaube der Hellenen , 
11.30; Nilsson, Geschichte , 1.515 f.; Latte, "The Coming of Pythia," Harv. Theol. Rev . 33 (1940) 9 ff. Professor Parke, Hist, of 
the Delphic Oracle , 14, inclines to the opinion that Apollo took over the Pythia from the primitive Earth-oracle at Delphi, on the 
ground that this accounts for her sex (we should expect Apollo to have a male priest); but this argument is, I think, adequately 
met by Latte. 

30 Euripides makes Teiresias claim that Dionysus is, among other things, a god of ecstatic prophecy ( Ba . 298 ff.); and it 

appears from Hdt. 7.111 that female trance-mediumship was really practised at his Thracian oracle in the country of the Satrae 
(cf. Eur. Hec . 1267, where he is called A pbfTlt y But j n Greece he found a mantic god already in possession, and 

seems accordingly to have resigned this function, or at any rate allowed it to fall into the background. In the Roman age he had 
a trance-oracle (with a male priest) at Amphikleia in Phocis (Paus. 10.33.11, IG IX. 1.218); but this is not attested earlier, and 
the cult shows Orientalising traits (Latte, loc. cit ., 11). 

31 Phoenicia: Gressmann, Altorientalische Texte u. Bilderzum A.T. 1.225 ff. Hittites: A. Gotze, Kleinasiatische Forschungen , 
1.219; O. R. Gurney; "Hittite Prayers of Mursili II," Liverpool Annals , XXVII. Cf. C. J. Gadd, Ideas of Divine Rule in the Ancient 
East (Schweich Lectures, 1945), 20 ff. We also have a series of Assyrian oracles, dating from the reign of Esarhaddon, in which 




the goddess Ishtar professedly speaks through the mouth of an (entranced.?) priestess whose name is given: see A. Guillaume, 
Prophecy and Divination among the Hebrews and Other Semites , 42 ff. Like the dtophvrt ir j n piato, Apol . 22c, such prophets 
are said to "bring forth what they do not know" (A. Haidar, Associations of Cult Prophets among the Ancient Semites , 25). Gadd 
thinks ecstatic prophecy in general older than divination by art ("oracles and prophecy tend to harden into practices of formal 
divination"); and Halliday is of the same opinion ( Greek Divination , 55 ff.). 

32 Nilsson, Greek Popular Religion , 79, following B. Hrozny, Arch. Or . 8 (1936) 171 ff. Unfortunately, the reading "Apulunas," 
which Hrozny, claims to have deciphered in a Hittite hieroglyphic inscription, is disputed by other competent Hittite scholars: see 
R. D. Barnett, J HS 70 (1950) 104. 

33 Cf. Wilamowitz, "Apollon," Hermes , 38 (1903) 575 ff.; Glaube , 1.324 ff.; and (for those who do not read German) his Oxford 
lecture on Apollo (1908), translated by Murray. 

34 Claros, Paus. 7.3.1; Branchidae (Didyma), ibid ., 7.2.4. Cf. C. Pi-card, Ephase et Claros , 109 ff. 

35 Cf. Farnell's discussion, Cults , IV. 224. The ancient evidence is collected ibid ., 403 ff. 

36 Hdt. 1.182. Cf. A. B. Cook, Zeus , 11.207 ff., and Latte, loc. cit . 

37 So Curtius, Meillet, Boisacq, Hofmann. Cf. Plato, Phaedrus 244c, and Eur. Ba . 299. 

38 Od . 20.351 ff. I cannot agree with Nilsson, Gesch . 1.154, that this scene is "dichterisches Schauen, nicht das sogenannte 

zweite Gesicht." The parallel with the symbolism of Celtic vision, noticed by Monro ad loc ., seems too close to be accidental. Cf. 
also Aesch. Eum . 378 ff.: ToIw M M^t-TfirATarai, 

Jw> <t*p6v nv’ AxXiv KfttA U>pa ros atearai TO UffTOfOS $Am , and for the symbolic vision of blood, Hdt. 7.140.3 and the 
Plutarch passage quoted in the next note, as well as Njals Saga , c. 126. 

39 Plut. Pyrrh 3 i: I* T ^X«i T&y 'A pytluv i) row Aucclov jrpo^Tir 
'Ar6\kufos l&6pc.fit (k&oa vticpuf ipav xal <i>6vov xarArXeco -rt\v ■xb'kiv . 

40 It could be made available at set times and seasons only by the use of some device analogous to the mediaeval "crystal ball." 
This was perhaps done at the minor Apolline oracle of Kvavlai in Lycia, where Pausanias says it was possible 

lou ivMvra Twi. h Hlv Triyijydpolut wirra brbaa Ofktt 6tbaao$tu ( 7 . 21 . 13 ). 

41 trQtm never means that the soul has left the body and is "in God," as Rohde seems in places to imply, but always that the 
body has a god within it, as Ipivxm means that it has within it (see Pfister in Pisciculi F. J. Doelger dargeboten [Munster, 
1939], 183). Nor can I accept the view that the Pythia became IfQtOS only in the sense of being "in a state of grace resulting 
from the accomplishment of rites" and that her "inspired ecstasy" is the invention of Plato, as P. Amandry has recently 
maintained in a careful and learned study which unfortunately appeared too late for me to use in preparing this chapter, La 
Mantique apollinienne a Delphes (Paris, 1950), 234 f. He rightly rejects the "frenzied" Pythia of Lucan and the vulgar tradition, 
but his argument is vitiated by the assumption, still common among people who have never seen a "medium" in trance, that 
"possession" is necessarily a state of hysterical excitement. He also seems to misunderstand Phaedrus 244 B , which surely does 
not mean that besides her trance utterances the Pythia also gave oracles (of inferior quality) in her normal state (UUf&povovoa . ), 
but only that apart from her mediumship she had no particular gifts (cf. n. 53 below). 

42 Ar. apud Sext. Emp. adv. dogm . 3.20 f. = fr. 10 Rose (cf. Jaeger, Aristotle , Eng. trans., 160 f.); Probl . 30, 954 a 34 ff.; R. 
Walzer, "Un frammento nuovo di Aristotele," Stud. ital. di Fil. Class . N.S. 14 (1937) 125 ff.; Cic. de divin . 1.18, 64, 70, 113; 
Plut. def. orac . 39 f., 431 E ff. Cf. Rohde, Psyche , 312 f. 

43 Some writers (e.g., Farnell, Greece and Babylon , 303) use the terms "shamanism" and "possession" as if they were 
synonymous. But the characteristic feature of shamanism is not the entry of an alien spirit into the shaman; it is the liberation of 
the shaman's spirit, which leaves his body and sets off on a mantic journey or "psychic excursion." Supernatural beings may 
assist him, but his own personality is the decisive element. Cf. Oesterreich, op. cit ., 305 ff., and Meuli, Hermes , 70 (1935) 144. 
Greek prophets of the shamanistic type are discussed below, chap. v. 

44 Cf. Minuc. Felix, Oct . 26 f., and the passages collected by Tambornino, de antiquorum daemonismo ( RGVV VII, 3). 

45 "Deus inclusus corpore humano ism, non Cassandra, loquitur," says Cicero ( de divin . 1.67) with reference to an old Latin 
tragedy, probably the Alexander of Ennius. Aeschylus presents Cassandra as a clairvoyante rather than a medium; but there is 
an approach to the idea of possession at Agam . 1269 ff., where she suddenly sees her own act in stripping off the symbols of 
seership (1266 f.) as the act of Apollo himself. For the possession of the Sibyl by Apollo, and of Bakis by the Nymphs, see 
Rohde, Psyche , ix, n. 63. (I doubt if Rohde was right in supposing Bakis to be originally a generic descriptive title, like ff ‘^t / XXa ( 
ibid ., n. 58. When Aristotle speaks of 2I0uXXai *al BaicUff xalolMeoi T&frtt [ probl . 954 a 36], and Plutarch of 
Sl^uXXai aural *al BaxlAcr ^ pyth. or . 10, 399 A ], they probably mean "people like the Sibyl and Bakis." The term Efi/wicXui 
was similarly used [Plut. def. orac . 9, 414 E ; S Plato Soph . 252 C ]; but Eurycles was certainly a historical person. And when 
Philetas, apud S Ar. Pax 1071, distinguishes three different Bcwi3<r , he is merely using a common expedient of Alexandrian 
scholars for reconciling inconsistent statements about the same person. Everywhere else Bakis appears as an individual 
prophet.) 

46. Plato calls them ffw^Amit and XPW«|>5ol ( Apo | _ 2 2 C , Meno 99 C ), or and flAmit Otio l ( | 0 n 534 C ). They 

fall into Movaiaapbt and utter (in a state of trance?) truths of which they know nothing, and are thus dearly distinguished both 
from those pbyrtis who "trust birds" ( Phil . 67 B ) and those XPiW*°XA>ot who merely quote or expound old oracles. Plato says 
nothing to indicate that they have official status. See Fascher, ripo^njr ( 66 ff. 

47 Plut. def. orac . 9 , 414 E , T0 ^* ifyocrpiptflovs , Ebpvtklas rAXai ( rurl IlfrWai rpovayoptoopirmn ■ Hesych., s.v. 
iryaCTplpvdotTovriv rifts lyyaffrpl/iamv, ol M ortpvSpafrw \iyovoi . . . rovrovfotis Uiiduva vvv na\ovptv . The more 
dignified term oripvbpavrix comes from the Alx>*aXii.'r[5tr 0 f Sophocles, fr. 59 P. On private mediumship in late antiquity see 
App. II, pp. 295 ff. 

48 Ar. Vesp . 1019, and schol.; Plato, Soph . 252 C , and schol. 

49 ift As vro^Otyybptvov r piato, loc. cit . L.-S. takes bro^tOtyybptvov to mean "speaking in an undertone"; but the other 
sense, which Corn ford adopts, suits the context much better. 

50 As Starkie points out ad loc ., Ar. Vesp . 1019 need not imply ventriloquism in our sense of the word, while some of the other 
notices definitely exclude it. Cf. Pearson on Soph. fr. 59. 

51 Plut. def. orac., loc. cit ., where their state of possession is compared to that commonly ascribed to the Pythia, though it is 




not clear just how far the comparison extends. Schol. Plato, loc. cit. , balpoya 

• . . r6y iyictXtvbptvov atni Xtpl ruv luWbvrwv Aiyttv suidas' statement that they called up the souls of the dead is not to 
be trusted: he took it from I Sam. 28 (witch of Endor), and not, as Halliday asserts, from Philochores. 

52 Hipp. Epid . 5.63 (= 7.28), W twfcfc roC ()tf}a.VTlff6ai tvaxviovci 

cal Ik tov crifitot , Cnrxtp al lyyaxrpipvOot \eybpiyai . a critical observer's report on the famous "medium" Mrs. 

Piper states that in full trance "the breathing is slower by one half than normal, and very stertorous," and goes on to suggest 
that "this profound variation in the breathing, with the lessened oxygenation of the blood... is probably the agency by means of 
which the normal consciousness is put out of commission" (Amy Tanner, Studies in Spiritualism , 14, 18). 

53 Plut. Pyth. orac . 22, 405c. Aelius Aristides, orat . 45.11 Dind., says that the Pythiae have in their normal condition no 
particular (xian)pif ; and When in trance make no use of such knowledge as they possess. Tacitus asserts that the inspired 
prophet at Clams was ignarus plerumque litterarum et carminum ( Annals 2.54). 

54 Both types occurred in theurgic possession (see App. II, p. 297). Both were known to John Cassian in the fourth century A.D. 

: "some demoniacs," he observes, "are so excited that they take no account of what they do or say; but others know it and 
remember it afterwards" ( Collationes patrum , 7.12). And both appear in savage possession and in spirit mediumship. 

55 About the priestesses at Dodona the testimony of Aelius Aristides is clear and unambiguous: t'ffTtpOw uy ilroy taa.<nv 

( orat . 45.11). What he sa^s about the Pythiae is less explicit: he asks regarding them Tira Ixlaravrai ty xov rbre 

(sc. y* olal Ti fUrl *** oW ptfiyn<rdat . (45 _ 10) _ strict , y spe aking, this need not 

imply more than that they cannot remember why they said what they did. The language used by other writers about the Pythiae 
is too vague to admit of any secure inference. 

56 Plut. def. orac . 51, 438 C : °^ rt 7^P x&vras oDre rovt airrobt del Starl&ijxtyua'aOroif i) row xytiiparot b(n> afut (the 
statement is general, but must include the Pythia, as the context shows). 

57 Ibid ., 438 B : aXANou <al *a<oD t ytvparoi ofja x\yprj i "Dumb" spirits are those which refuse to tell their names 
(Lagrange on Mark 9: 17; Campbell Bonner, "The Technique of Exorcism," Harv. Theol. Rev . 36 [1943] 43 f.). "A dumb 
exhalation" (Flaceliere) is hardly sense. 

58 dvflXofTO . . . tptfrpoya . This is the reading of all extant MSS, and makes reasonable sense. In quoting the passage formerly 
( Greek Poesy and Life: Essays Presented to Gilbert Murray , 377) I was careless enough to accept ii<j>pava from Wyttenbach. 

59 I have myself seen an amateur medium break down during trance in a similar way, though without the sine fatal results. For 
cases of possession resulting in death, see Oesterreich, op. cit ., 93, 118 f., 222 ff . , 238. It is quite unnecessary to assume with 
Flaceliere that the Pythia's death must have been due to inhaling mephitic "vapours" (which would probably kill on the spot if 
they killed at all, and must in any case have affected the other persons present). Lucan's imaginary picture of the death of an 
earlier Pythia ( Phars . 5.161 ff.) was perhaps suggested by the incident Plutarch records, which can be dated to the years 57-62 
A.D. (J. Bayer, Melanges Grat , 1.53 ff.). 

60 It may be said that, strictly, the text proves only that the priests and enquirers were within earshot (R. Flaceliere, "Le 
Fonctionnement de I'Oracle de Delphes au temps de Plutarque," Annales de i'Ecole des Hautes Etudes a Gand [ Etudes 
d'archeologie grecque ], 2 [1938] 69 ff.). But it gives no positive support to Flaceliere's view that the Pythia was separated from 
them by a door or curtain. And the phrase Slicijy rtw t irtiyopbrir ra ther suggests a visual impression; she shuddered like a ship 
in a storm. On the procedure at Delphi in earlier periods I can arrive at no confident judgement: the literary evidence is either 
maddeningly vague or impossible to reconcile with the archaeological findings. At Claros, Tacitus' account suggests ( Ann . 2.54), 
and Iamblichus definitely states ( de myst . 3.11), that the inspired prophet was not visible. But at Apollo's Ptoan oracle in 
Boeotia the enquirers themselves hear the inspired irpbpavrit speaking and take down his words (Fldt. 8.135). 

61 Plut.. 2. Conv . 1.5.2, 623 B : pb.\iara 5* 6 lv6ov<na<rp6s Kal 

xaparpixti rb Tt aup a Kai rifv to 0 XWifiaV s *ai KadtariiKbrot . The pitch of the voice in which the "possessed" spoke 

was one of the symptoms from which the ttaBapra i drew inferences about the possessing spirit (Hipp. morb. sacr . 1, VI. 360. 15 
L.). In all parts of the world the "possessed" are reported as speaking in a changed voice: see Oesterreich, op. cit. , 10, 19-21, 
133, 137, 208, 247 f., 252, 254, 277. So too the famous Mrs. Piper, when "possessed" by a male "control," would speak "in an 
unmistakably male voice, but rather husky" ( Proc. Society for Psychical Research , 8.127). 

62 Cf. Parke, Hist, of the Delphic Oracle , 24 ff., and Amandry, op. cit. , chaps, xi-xiii, where the ancient evidence on these 
points is discussed. Contact with a god's sacred tree as a means of procuring his epiphany may go back to Minoan times (B. Al, 
Mnemosyne , Ser. Ill, 12 [1944] 215). On the techniques employed to induce trance in late antiquity see App. II, pp. 296 f. 

63 Oesterreich, op. cit. , 319, n. 3. 

64 For Claros see Maximus Tyrius, 8.1c, Tac. Ann . 2.54, Pliny, N.FI . 2.232. Pliny's remark that drinking the water shortened the 
life of the drinker is probably a mere rationalisation of the widespread belief that persons in contact with the supernatural die 
young. The procedure at Branchidae is uncertain, but the existence of a spring possessing prophetic properties is now confirmed 
by an inscription (Wiegand, Abh. Berl. Akad . 1914, Heft 1, p. 22). For other springs said to cause insanity cf. Halliday, Greek 
Divination , 124 f. For the highly primitive procedure at Argos see Paus. 2.24.1; it has good savage parallels (Oesterreich, op. 
cit. , 137, 143 f.; Frazer, Magic Art , 1.383). 

65 Wilamowitz, Hermes , 38 (1904) 579; A. P. Oppe, "The Chasm at Delphi," J HS 24 (1904) 214 ff. 

66 Oppe, loc. cit. ; Courby, Fouilles de Delphes , 11.59 ff. But I suspect that the belief in the existence of some sort of chasm 
under the temple is much older than the theory of vapours, and probably suggested it to rationalists in search of an explanation. 
At Cho . 953, Aeschylus' Chorus address Apollo as piyav tx uv pv\bv xBovbs f an d the corresponding phrase at 807, 

P v-lya. valuv arSpioyf ; must also in my judgement refer to Apollo. This seems an unnatural way of speaking if the poet has in 
mind merely the Pleistos gorge; the temple is not in the gorge, but above it. It looks more like a traditional phraseology going 
back to the days of the Earth-oracle: for its implications cf. Hes. Theog . 119: TAprapa r i )tpbtvra pirxwxdovfc : Aesch. P.V . 
433 : "Aibot . . . pvxbt y&t , Pind. Pyth . 4.44: X^ 0 *'* 01 ' Alba crbpa . jhe OTbpiov which was later interpreted as a channel 
for vapours (Strabo, 9.3.5, p. 419: uirtpKtioBai Sburopiov rptroba inl^Xbv, l<t>’ bv TTjy IluOiaf avafiaivovoai’ btXO^V 1 ' 
t 6 Tvtvpa biroOtairlfur ) had originally, I take it, been conceived as an avenue for dreams. 

67 E.g., Leicester B. Holland, "The Mantic Mechanism of Delphi," AJ A 1933, 201 ff.; R. Flaceliere, Annales de I'Ecole des Hautes 
Eudes a Gand , 2 (1938) 105 f. See, contra , E. Will, Bull. Corr. Hell . 66-67 (1942-1943) 161 ff., and now Amandry, op. cit. , 
chap. xix. 

68 Hdt. 6.66; cf. Paus. 3.4.3. Similarly, it was the Pythia whom Pleistoanax was accused of bribing on a later occasion (Thuc. 




5.16.2). Thucydides might be speaking loosely, but Herodotus was not, for he gives the Pythia's name. It is open, however, to 
the sceptic to say that he is reproducing an "edited" Delphic version of what happened. (Amandry neglects these passages, and 
is inclined to make the Pythia a mere accessory, op. cit. , 120 ff.) 

69 Parke, op. cit. , 37. Fascher, contrasting Greek with Jewish prophecy, doubts if "real prophecy was possible within the 
framework of an institution" ( op. cit. , 59); and in regard to responses on matters of public concern the doubt seems justified. 
Replies to private en-quirers— which must have formed the majority at all periods, though very few genuine examples are 
preserved— may have been less influenced by institutional policy. 

70 The verse form of response, which had gone out of use in Plutarch's day, was pretty certainly the older; some even 
maintained that the hexameter was invented at Delphi (Plut. Pyth. orac . 17, 402 D ; Pliny, N.H . 7.205, etc.). Strabo asserts 
that the Pythia herself sometimes spoke t pptrpa (9.3.5, P. 419), and Tacitus says the same of the inspired prophet at Claros ( 
Ann . 2.54). These statements of Strabo and Tacitus have been doubted (most recently by Amandry, op. cit. , 168), but are by 
no means incredible. Lawson knew a modern Greek prophet, "unquestionably mad," who possessed "an extraordinary power of 
conducting his part of a conversation in metrical, if not highly poetical, form" ( op. cit. , 300). And the American missionary 
Nevius heard a "possessed" woman in China extemporise verses by the hour together: "Everything she said was in measured 
verse, and was chanted to an unvarying tune.... The rapid, perfectly uniform, and long continued utterances seemed to us such 
as could not possibly be counterfeited or premeditated" (J. L. Nevius, Demon Possession and Allied Themes , 37 f.). Among the 
ancient Semitic peoples "recitation of verses and doggerel was the mark of one who had converse with the spirits" (A. Guillaume, 
Prophecy and Divination among the Hebrews and Other Semites , 245). In fact, automatic or inspirational speech tends 
everywhere to fall into metrical patterns (E. Lombard, De la glossolalie , 207 ff.). But usually, no doubt, the Pythia's utterances 
had to be versified by others; Strabo, loc. cit. , speaks of poets being retained for this purpose, and Plutarch, Pyth. orac . 25, 

407 B , mentions the suspicion that in old days they sometimes did more than their duty. At Branchidae the existence in the 
second century B.C. of a X( ,r ) <r P°yP&4 >101 ' (office for drafting, or recording, responses?) is inscriptionally attested ( Rev. de Phil . 
44 [1920] 249, 251); and at Claros the functions of (medium?) and Oiairu^oCiv (versifier?) were distinct, at least in 

Roman times (Dittenberger, OGI II, no. 530). An interesting discussion of the whole problem by Edwyn Beyan will be found in 
the Dublin Review , 1931. 

71 The Greeks were quite alive to the possibility of fraud in particular instances; the god's instruments were fallible. But this did 
not shake their faith in the existence of a divine inspiration. Even Heraclitus accepted it (fr. 93), contemptuous as he was of 
superstitious elements in contemporary religion; and Socrates is represented as a deeply sincere believer. On Plato's attitude see 
below, chap, vii, pp. 217 f., 222 f. Aristotle and his school, while rejecting inductive divination, upheld ivQovoiaopin , as did the 
Stoics; the theory that it was iiufrvrot , or provoked by vapours, did not invalidate its divine character. 

72 This was so from the first; Delphi was promised its share of the fines to be paid by the collaborators (Hdt. 7.132.2), and also 
received a tithe of the booty after Plataea ( ibid. , 9.81.1); the hearths polluted by the presence of the invader were rekindled, at 
the Oracle's command, from Apollo's own (Plut. Aristides 20). 

73 It is worth noting that the nearest approach to an ecclesiastical organisation transcending the individual city-state was the 

system of m'OoxprjOTOt- who expounded Apolline sacral law at Athens and doubtless elsewhere (cf. Nilsson, Gesch . 

1.603 ff.). 

74 Aesch. Eum . 616 ff. : ouitmtot’ flirov pavTinolatv tv Op 6vch? . . . tprj niktuoai Z«w 'OXvpTMV warijp . 

75 Cic. de divin . 2.117: "quando ista vis autem evanuit? an postquam homines minus creduli esse coeperunt?" On the social 
basis of changes in religious belief see Kardiner, Psychological Frontiers of Society , 426 f. It is significant that the growing social 
tensions and increased neurotic anxieties of the late Empire were accompanied by a revival of interest m oracles: see Eitrem, 
Orakel und Mysterien am Ausgang der Arntike . 

76 Ivan M. Linforth, "The Corybantic Rites in Plato," Univ. of Calif. Publ. in Class. Philology , Vol. 13 (1946), No. 5; "Telestic 
Madness in Plato, Phaedrus 244 DE ibid. , No. 6. 

77 "Maenadism in the Bacchae," Harv. Theol. Rev . 33 (1940) 155 ff. See Appendix I in the present book. 

78 Cf. Eur. Ba . 77, and Varro apud Serv. ad Virg. Georg . 1.166: "Liberi patris sacra ad purgationem animae pertinebant." We 
should perhaps connect with this the cult of AtOVVffOf iarpis which is said to have been recommended to the Athenians by 
Delphi (Athen. 22 E , cf. 36 B ). 

79 Hesiod, Erga 614, Theog . 941; Horn. II . 14.325. Cf. also Pindar, fr. 9-4 Bowra (29 S): rav Aiwvvoov woXvyadta ripav / an d 
the definition of Dionysus' functions at Eur. Ba . 379 ff., Oiafftvtiv Tf xopoiT 

fUT& r' cu'Xou -ft Ad yen iwoiravaai rc ptptpvas, kt\ 

80 Cf. Eur. Ba . 421 ff., and my note ad loc . Hence the support that the Dionysiac cult received from Periander and the 
Peisistratids; hence also, perhaps, the very slight interest that Homer takes in it (though he was acquainted with maenads, II . 
22.460), and the contempt with which Heraclitus viewed it (fr. 14 makes his attitude sufficiently clear, whatever may be the 
sense of fr. 15). 

81 See chap, ii, p. 46; and for Avoid , App. I, p. 273. The connection of "Dionysiac" mass hysteria with intolerable social 
conditions is nicely illustrated in E. H. Norman's article, "Mass Hysteria in Japan," Far Eastern Survey , 14 (1945) 65 ff. 

82 Cf. H. Hymn 7.34 ff. It was, I take it, as Master of Illusions that Dionysus came to be the patron of a new art, the art of the 
theatre. To put on a mask is the easiest way of ceasing to be oneself (cf. Levy-Bruhl, Primitives and the Supernatural , 123 ff.). 
The theatrical use of the mask presumably grew out of its magical use: Dionysus became in the sixth century the god of the 
theatre because he had long been the god of the masquerade. 

83 Herodotus, 4.79.3. For the meaning of ftahtaOat c f. Linforth, "Corybantic Rites," 127 f. 

84 Pfister has shown grounds for thinking that tMTttffit, i^urracBai ; did no t originally involve (as Rohde assumed) the idea of 

the soul's departure from the body; they are quite commonly used by classical writers of any abrupt change of mind or mood 
("Ekstasis," Pisciculi F. J . Doelger dargeboten , 178 ff.). & Kaipr)Si TpocboKuptv tucraaiv tfiipti , says Pericles to 

the Athenians (Thuc. 2.61.2); TpocioKvptv «k<tt a.mv <f>ipn ( sa y S Menander (fr. 149); and in Plutarch's time a person 

could describe himself as , meaning merely that he felt, as we say, "put out" or "not himself" (Plut. gen. Socr . 

588 A ). Cf. also Jeanne Croissant, Aristote et les mysteres , 41 ff. 

85 [Apollod.] Bibl . 2.2.2. Cf. Rohde, Psyche , 287; Boyance, Le Culte des Muses chez les philosophes grecs , 64 f. It has been 
the usual opinion of scholars since Rohde that at Phaedr . 244 DE Plato had the Melampus story in mind; but see, contra , 
Linforth, "Telestic Madness," 169. 

86 Boyance, op. cit. , 66 ff., tries to find survivals of the god's original cathartic function (whose importance he rightly stresses) 




even in his Attic festivals. But his arguments are highly speculative. 

87 This appears from Plato, Laws 815 CD , where he describes, and rejects as "uncivilised" foO ToAitik 6 v' certain "Bacchic" 
mimetic dances, imitating Nymphs, Pans, Sileni, and Satyrs, which were performed irtpi jcadap/iovs Tt xai T*X(TaS rims . cf. 
also Aristides Quintilianus, de musica 3.25, p. 93 Jahn: T ®s Baxxwcos TiKtras xai 

off ai Tai)T aw irapairXiiffiCH X 070 U nvds txtffOa i <t>a<nv Sirws fiv 17 ruv 

&.nadtffTipuv irToiyffis 5ia fiiov i\ rirxyv tuv tv ravran ptXipSioivri itai 6 px> ifftuv apa TatSiais ^KKcuOaipTjTCu (quoted 
by Jeanne Croissant, Aristote et les mysteres , 121). In other passages which are sometimes cited in this connection, the term 
/n *V“" may be used metaphorically for any excited state: e.g., Plato, Laws 790 E (cf. Linforth, "Corybantic Rites," 132); Aesch. 
Cho . 698, which I take as referring to the kcjmo* of the Eptv&ff ( Agam . 1186 ff., cf. Eum . 500). 

88 Eur. Hipp . 141 ff.; Hipp. morb. sacr . 1, VI. 360. 13 ff. L. 

89 Pan was believed to cause not only panic (Tlapixdy Stcpa ) ; but also fainting and collapse (Eur. Med . 1172 and S ). It is a 
likely enough guess that originally Arcadian shepherds put down the effects of sunstroke to the anger of the shepherd god; and 
that he was first credited with causing panic by reason of the sudden terror which sometimes infects a herd of beasts 
(Tambornino, op. cit. , 66 f.). Cf. Suidas 1 definition of panic as occurring 'W ,fa atfaiSiov ot r t 

ijttcm. xai oi &v9puiroi Ikt apa.)(0£>ff 1 and the observation of Philodemus, tr. 9tuv , col. 13 (Scott, Fragm. Here . no. 26), that 
animals are subject to worse rapa\aL than men. The association of Apollo Nopior w jth po^ia ma y have a similar origin. 

90 Eur. Hipp . 143 f. speaks as if the two were distinct, as does Dion. Hai. Demosth . 22. But the Corybantes were originally 

Cybele's attendants; she, like them, had a healing function (Pind. Pyth . 3.137 ff.; Diog. trag. 1.5, p. 776 N. 2 ; Diodorus, 
3.58.2); and this function included the cure of (Dionysus himself is "purged" of his madness by Rhea-Cybele, [Apollod.] 

Bibl . 3.5.1). And I think it a reasonable guess that in Pindar's day the rites were similar, if not identical, since Pindar wrote 
ivdpoviopol (Suidas, s.v. n»j'5apor which it is natural to connect on the one hand with the Corybantic rite of Spbvuois or 
Bpovtffpbs described by Plato, Euthyd . Ill D and Dio Chrys. Or . 12.33,387 R., and on the other with the cult of the Mother 
which Pindar himself established ( S Pind. Pyth . 3.137; Paus. 9.25.3). If this is so, we may suppose the Corybantic rite to be an 
offshoot from the Cybele-cult, which took over the goddess's healing function and gradually developed an independent existence 
(cf. Linforth, "Corybantic Rites," 157). 

91 The annual TtXirfi 0 f Hecate at Aegina, though attested for us only by late writers (testimonies in Farnell, Cults , 11.597, n. 

7), is doubtless old: it claimed to have been founded by Orpheus (Paus. 2.30.2). Its functions were presumably cathartic and 
apotropaic (Dio Chrys. Or . 4.90). But the view that they were specifically directed to the cure of P a,, <- a seems to rest only on 
Lobeck's interpretation of Ar. Vesp . 122 Si^Xtuao 1 «ls Wyivav as referring to this Ttktri\ ( Aglaophamus , 242), which is 
hardly more than a plausible guess. 

92 Ar. Vesp . 119; Plut. Amat . 16, 758 F ; Longinus, Subl . 39.2. Cf. Croissant, op. cit. , 59 ff.; Linforth, "Corybantic Rites," 125 

f.; and below, App. I. The essential similarity of the two^ites explains how Plato can use ffvywpvPayriav anc j ffvpf}a.KX*vti* as 
synonyms ( Symp . 228 B , 234 D ), and can speak of®‘ T & v l*<i>pbvuvf}a.KX*iuv iafftis j n reference to what he has just 
described as K opvpavTUV lipara ( Laws 790 DE ). 

93 Plato, Symp 215 E : nM poi paWov ij tup KopuflaPTtuPTUP fj r&capSia itt/Sq nai &&Kpua inxifrai j a g re e with 
Linforth that the reference is to the effect of the rites, though similar effects could occur in spontaneous possession (cf. 
Menander, Theophoroumene 16-28 K.). 

94 Plato, Ion 553 E : ot KopvPavrtwvTts ovk tp<fipop<ts 6 vrts dpxovvrai. f Pliny, n.h . 11.147: "Quin et patentibus dormiunt 
(oculis) lepores multique hominum, quos KopL'$a»’TtO»' Graeci dicunt." The latter passage can scarcely refer to ordinary sleep, as 
Linforth assumes ("Corybantic Rites," 128 f.), for ( a ) the statement would be false, as Pliny must have known, ( b ) it is hard to 
see why a habit of sleeping with the eyes open should be taken as evidence of possession. I agree with Rohde ( Psyche , ix, n. 
18) that what Pliny means is "a condition related to hypnosis"; the ecstatic ritual dance might well induce such a state in the 
susceptible. Lucian, J up. Trag . 30, mentions Ki vr\po. KopvPavru&ts a mong symptoms of incipient mantic trance. For the effects 
of the comparable Dionysiac ritual see Plut. Mul. Virt . 13, 249 E (App. I, p. 271). 

95 Theophrastus, fr. 91 W.; Plato, Rep . 398 C -401 A . Cf. Croissant, op. cit , chap, iii; Boyance, op. cit. , I, chap. vi. The 

emotional significance of flute-music is illustrated in a bizarre way by two curious pathological cases which have come down to 
us. In one of them, reported by Galen (VII. 60 f. Kuhn), an otherwise sane patient was haunted by hallucinatory flute-players, 
whom he saw and heard by day and night (cf. Aetius, 6 . 8 , and Plato, Crito 54 D ). In the other, the patient was seized 

with panic whenever he heard the flute played at a party (Hipp. Epid . 5.81, V.250 L.). 

96 Laws 790 E : Mpara 61 ^o&Xjjj' rrjs <f>vxns nva . cf. H. Orph . 39.1 ff., where the Corybantic daemon is called 

< pofkop airotrabffTopa&tMy . 

97 "Corybantic Rites," 148 ff. 

98 See above, n. 87. Elsewhere Aristides tells us that fi'^ovfftaffpol in general are liable, in default of proper treatment, to 
produce dfiffiOai poviat Tt koI 0 X 0701 ?? 4>bflovs ( de musica , p. 42 Jahn). Mile Croissant has shown reason to think that these 
statements come from a good Peripatetic source, probably Theophrastus ( op. cit. , 117 ff.). It may be observed that "anxiety" ( 
tpporri? ) j S recognised as a special type of pathological state in the Hippocratic treatise de morbis (2.72, VII. 108 f. L.); and that 
religious anxieties, especially the fear of balpovts ; a ppear in clinical descriptions, e.g., Hipp. virg . 1 (VIII. 466 L.) and [Galen] 
XIX. 702. Phantasies of exaggerated responsibility were also known, e.g., Galen (VIII. 190) cites melancholics who identified 
themselves with Atlas, and Alexander of Tralles describes a patient of his own who feared that the world would collapse if she 
bent her middle finger (1.605 Puschmann). There is an interesting field of study here for a psychologist or psychotherapist with a 
knowledge of the ancient world and an understanding of the social implications of his subject. 

99 Loc. cit. supra , n. 88 . 

100 As Linforth points out ( op. cit. , 151), it is nowhere expressly stated that the disorder which the Corybantes cured had been 

caused by them. But it is a general principle of magical medicine, in Greece and elsewhere, that only he who caused a disease 
knows how to cure it (^ *puff as Kal iafftrai hence the importance attached to discovering the identity of the possessing 
Power. For the cathartic effect, cf. Aretaeus' interesting account of an povia. ( morb. chron . 1.6 fin .) in which the 

sufferers gash their own limbs, fftpifiMoif ws airairodfft \api$ 6 ptvot tvfftfiti <f>a vraffirf After this experience they are 
eitfupcoi, aKijStts, us TtXtadtPTts rip Otu 

101 Ar. Vesp . 118 ff. See above, n. 91. 




102 Plato, Ion 536 C . Of the two views given in the text, the first corresponds broadly to Linforth's ( op. cit. , 139 f.), though he 
might not accept the term "anxiety-state," while the second goes back to Jahn ( NJ bb Supp.-Band X [1844] 231). It is, as 
Linforth says, "difficult to accept the notion of a divided allegiance in a single religious ceremony." Yet Jahn's theory is supported, 
not only by the usage of KOpu^aKTTOK elsewhere in Plato, but also, I think, by Laws 791 A , where in apparent reference to 

rd twk Kopv(iiirrwv l&pa-ra. (790 D ) Plato speaks of the healed patients as opyovnivov 5 rf *ai 

auXotip^Kout ptra dtuv ols bu na\\ttpovvTti inaaroi Bvuiffi . Linforth argues that there is a transition here "from the 
particular to the general, from Corybantic rites at the beginning to the whole class of rites involving madness" ( op. cit. , 133). 

But the more natural interpretation of the two passages, taken together, is that the Corybantic rite included (1) a musical 
diagnosis; (2) a sacrifice by each patient to the god to whose music he had responded, and an observation of omens; (3) a 
dance of those whose sacrifices were accepted, in which the appeased deities (perhaps impersonated by priests?) were believed 
to take part. Such an interpretation would also give a more precise sense to the curious phrase used atSymp . 215 C , where we 
are told that the tunes attributed to Olympos or Marsyas "are able by themselves [i.e., without an accompanying dance, cf. 
Linforth, op. cit. , 142] to cause possession and to reveal those who need the gods and rites ( Toirf tCjv BtCiv rt icai r«X < tw 
beoplvovs ' seemingly the same persons who are referred^ to as TuyKopvffafTiuPTUV at 215 E )." On the view suggested, these 
would be the kind of persons who are called ol Kopvfiamtumtf a t ion 536 C , and the reference in both places would be to the 
first or diagnostic stage of the Corybantic rite. 

103 In Hellenistic and Christian times diagnosis (by forcing the intrusive spirit to reveal his identity) was similarly a prerequisite 
to successful exorcism: see Bonner, Harv. Theol. Rev . 36 (1943) 44 ff. For sacrifices to cure madness cf. Plaut. Men . 288 ff., 
and Varro, R.R . 2.4.16. 

104 Plato, Euthyd . 277 D : W X°P f ‘ a Ifn Ka * J’Giiid, tl 4paxal TtrfKnjat (discussed by Linforth, op. cit. , 124 

f.). It seems to me that the appeal to the experience of the TtTt\tffpivos is hardly natural save on the lips of one who is 
T(T(\taph<K himself. 

105 See chap, vii, p. 217. 

106 Plato, Laws 791 A ; Arist. Pol . 1342 3 7 ff. Cf. Croissant, op. cit. , 106 f.; Linforth, op. cit. , 162. 

107 Aristoxenus, fr. 26 Wehrli; cf. Boyance, op. cit. , 103 ff. 

108 Theophrastus, fr. 88 Wimmer (= Aristoxenus, fr. 6), seems to describe a musical cure (with the flute) performed by 
Aristoxenus, though the sense is obscured by textual corruption. Cf. also Aristoxenus, fr. 117, and Martianus Capella, 9, p. 493 
Dick: "ad affectiones animi tibias Theophrastus adhibebat ... Xenocrates organicis modulis lymphaticos liberabat." 

109 Theophrastus, loc. cit . He also claimed, if he is correctly reported, that music is good for faintness, prolonged loss of 
reason, sciatica (!), and epilepsy. 

110 Censorinus, de die natali 12 (cf. Celsus, III. 18); Caelius Aurelianus (i.e., Soranus), de morbis chronicis 1.5. Ancient medical 
theories of insanity and its treatment are usefully summarised in Heiberg's pamphlet, Geisteskrankheiten im klass. Altertum . 

111 Od . 8.63 f. The Muses also disabled Thamyris, 1 1 . 2.594 ff. The danger of an encounter with them is intelligible if scholars 
are right in connecting pouffa with mons and regarding them as originally mountain nymphs, since it has always been thought 
perilous to meet a nymph. 

112 Hesiod, Theog . 94 ff. 

113 II . 3.65 f.: oO rot iirAiSXjjr’ iarl 6tuv ipuaMa. buipa. / 6ff<ra k bCxnv ixwv {’ ofoc 4 k t« JfXcxrc . 

114 Cf. W. Marg, Der Character in der Sprache der fruhgriechischen Dichtung , 60 ff. 

115 11 . 11.218, 16.112, 14.508. The last of these passages has been regarded as a late addition both by Alexandrine and by 
modern critics; and all of them employ a conventional formula. But even if the appeal itself is conventional, its timing remains a 
significant clue to the original meaning of "inspiration." Similarly Phemius claimed to have received from the gods not merely his 
poetic talent, but his stories themselves ( Od . 22.347 f., cf. chap, i, p. 10). As Marg rightly says ( op. cit. , 63), "die Gabe der 
Gottheit bleibt noch auf das Geleistete, das dinghafte tpyov ausgerichtet." It corresponds to what Bernard Berenson has called 
"the planchette element in the pen, which often knows more and better than the person who wields it." 

116 I L 2.484 ff. The Muses were the daughters of Memory, and were themselves in some places called Mpflai (Plut. 2. Conv . 
743 D ). But I take it that what the poet here prays for is not just an accurate memory— for this, though highly necessary, would 
be memory only of an inaccurate kX^S —but an actual vision of the past to supplement the xXfof . Such visions, welling up from 
the unknown depths of the mind, must once have been felt as something immediately "given," and because of its immediacy 
more trustworthy than oral tradition. So when Odysseus observes that Demodocus can sing about the war of Troy "as if he had 
been there or heard about it from an eyewitness," he concludes that a Muse, or Apollo, must have "taught" it to him ( Od . 8.487 
ff.). There was a icXtOf on this subject too (8.74), but it was evidently not enough to account for Demodocus' accurate mastery of 
detail. Cf. Latte, "Hesiods Dichterweihe," Antike u. Abendland , II (1946), 159; and on the factual inspiration of poets in other 
cultures, N. K. Chadwick, Poetry and Prophecy , 41 ff. 

117 Special knowledge, no less than technical skill, is the distinctive mark of a poet in Homer: he is a man who "sings by grace 
of gods, knowing delightful epic tales" ( Od . 17.518 f.). Cf. Solon's description of the poet, fr. 13.51 f. B., as 

iptprfp ffcxpirfs pirpov iirurraptvoi . 

118 Several Indo-European languages have a common term for "poet" and "seer" (Latin vates , Irish fili , Icelandic thulr ). "It is 
clear that throughout the ancient languages of northern Europe the ideas of poetry, eloquence, information (especially 
antiquarian learning) and prophecy are intimately connected" (H. M. and N. K. Chadwick, The Growth of Literature , 1.637). 

Hesiod seems to preserve a trace of this original unity when he ascribes to the Muses ( Theog . 38), and claims for himself ( ibid. 

, 32), the same knowledge of "things present, future, and past" which Homer ascribes to Calchas ( II . 1.70); the formula is no 
doubt, as the Chadwicks say ( ibid. , 625), "a static description of a seer." 

119 Hesiod, Theog . 22 ff. Cf. chap, iv, p. 117, and the interesting paper by Latte referred to above (n. 116). 

120 "The songs made me, not I them," said Goethe. "It is not I who think," said Lamartine; "it is my ideas that think for me." 
"The mind in creation," said Shelley, "is as a fading coal, which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to 
transitory brightness." 

121 Pindar, fr. 150 S. (137 B.): Mott ra, irpo<j>arfv<rw 5' iyu . Cf. Paean 6.6 (fr. 40 B.), where he calls himself 

aoibipov II te piSuvjr pcxpbr at' ; an d Fascher, po<f>rjT7)i ; 2 . On Pindar's regard for truth see Norwood, Pindar , 166. A similar 
conception of the Muse as revealing hidden truth is implied in Empedocles' prayer that she will convey to him 

wk dipit iff tik i<t>rip(ploiffii' AxofaiK , (fr. 4; cf. Pindar, Paean 6.51 ff.). Virgil is true to this tradition when he begs the Muses 




to reveal to him the secrets of nature, Geo . 2.475ff. 

122 The same relationship is implied at Pyth . 4.279: MoIffaSi’ a 77 (XIas ipdat ■ the poet is the Muses' 

"messenger" (cf. Theognis, 769). We should not confuse this with the Platonic conception of poets 

tVtovffiafovm uxrictp ol otofiauTtis Kal oi XPV a PV&°i ( Apol . 22 C ). For Plato, the Muse is actually inside the poet: Crat . 

428 c : aWr/ m MoiVa raXai tr< ivox/aa eXfXtjfla . 

123 Laws 719 C . 

124 The inspirational theory of poetry is directly linked with Dionysus by the traditional view that the best poets have sought and 
found inspiration in drink. The classical statement of it is in the lines attributed to Cratinus: 

ohoi roi xapi«m ir«X« raxw ti Tiros ioiSv , Wup 5f v ifUf oiSi v &v rtKOi <ro<t>6v (fr. 199 K.). Thence it passed to Horace ( 
Epist . 1.19.1 ff.), who has made it a commonplace of literary tradition. 

125 Democritus, frs. 17, 18. He appears to have cited Homer as an instance (ft. 21). 

126 See the careful study by Delatte, Les Conceptions de I'enthousiasme , 28 ff., which makes an ingenious attempt to relate 
Democritus' views on inspiration to the rest of his psychology; also F. Wehrli, "Der erhabene und der schlichte Stil in der 
poetisch-rhetorischen Theorie der Antike," Phyllobolia fur Peter yon der Muhll , 9 ff. 

127 For the airs which poets gave themselves on the strength of this theory see Horace, Ars poetica , 295 ff. The view that 
personal eccentricity is a more important qualification than technical competence is of course a distortion of Democritus' theory 
(cf. Wehrli, op. cit. , 23); but it is a fatally easy distortion. 

IV Dream- Pattern And Culture- Pattern 

1 On the attitude of primitives to dream-experience see L. Levy-Bruhl, Primitive Mentality (Eng. trans., 1923), chap, iii, and 
L'Experience mystique , chap. iii. 

2 Theophrastus, Char . 16 (28 J.). 

3 See Malinowski, Sex and Repression in Savage Society , 92 ff., and especially J. S. Lincoln, The Dream in Primitive Cultures 
(London, 1935). Cf. also Georgia Kelchner, Dreams in Old Norse Literature and Their Affinities in Folklore (Cambridge, 1935), 75 
f. 

4 C. G. Jung would regard such dreams as based on "archetypal images" transmitted through a supposed racial memory. But, as 
Lincoln points out ( op. cit ., 24), their disappearance upon the breakdown of a culture indicates that the images are culturally 
transmitted. Jung himself ( Psychology and Religion , 20) reports the significant admission of a medicine-man, who "confessed to 
me that he no longer had any dreams, for they had the District Commissioner now instead. 'Since the English have been in the 
country we have no dreams any more,' he said. 'The D.C. knows everything about war and diseases, and about where we have 
got to live.'" 

5 Jane Harrison, Epilegomena to the Study of Greek Religion , 32. On the relationship between dream and myth see also W. H. 

R. Rivers, "Dreams and Primitive Culture," Bull, of John Rylands Library , 1918, 26; Levy-Bruhl, L'Exp. mystique , 105 ff.; Clyde 
Kluckhohn, "Myths and Rituals: A General Theory," Harv. Theol. Rev . 35 (1942) 45 ff. 

6 Primitive Culture in Greece , 151. 

7 Pindar, fr. 116 B. (131 S.). Cf. chap, v below, p. 135. 

8 The most recent and thorough study of dreams in Homer is Joachim Hundt's Der Traumglaube bei Homer (Greifswald, 1935), 
from which I have learned a good deal. "Objective" dreams are in his terminology "Aussentraume," in contrast with 
"Innentraume," which are regarded as purely mental experiences, even though-they may be provoked by an extraneous cause. 

9 irtipot as "dream-experience" seems to occur in Homer only in the phrase ^ (II. 22.199, Od . 19.541, 581 = 21.79). 

10 Ghost, II . 23.65 ff.; god, Od . 6.20 ff.; dream-messenger, II . 2.5 ff, where Zeus sends the iftipot on an errand exactly as 
he elsewhere sends Iris; tlivKor created ad hot, Od . 4.795 ff. In Iliad 2 and the two Odyssey dreams, the dream-figure is 
disguised as a living person (cf. infra , p. 109); but I see no reason to suppose with Hundt that it is really the "Bildseele" or 
shadow-soul of the person in question paying a visit to the "Bildseele" of the dreamer (cf. Bohme's criticism, Gnomon , 11 
[1935]). 

11 Entrance and exit by keyhole, Od . 4.802, 838; V ( || . 2.20, 23.68, Od . 4.803, 6.21; cf also II . 

10.496 (where an actual dream is surely in question). 

12 II . 23.99. 

13 II . 2.23, 23.69; Od . 4.804. Cf. Pindar, Ol . 13.67: eQSetr , AtoXMd0«<ttX«C1 ; Aesch. Eum . 94: eMotr’ if . 

14 Cf. Hundt, op. cit ., 42 f., and G. Bjorck, "if&P E Jcu> : De la perception de la reve chez les anciens," Eranos , 44 (1946) 309. 

15 Cf. Hdt. 6.107.1, and other examples quoted by Bjorck, lot. cit ., 311. 

16 tfoi**** 1 , Sappho, P. Oxy . 1787; Aesch. P.V . 657 (?); Eur. Ale . 355; Hdt. 7.16 b ; Plato, Phaedo 6 OE ; Parrhasios spud 
Athen. 543 F . IrujK.oxdv , Aesch. Agam . 13; TuXili j9ai , Aesch. P.V . 645; rpootMtir , Plato, Crito 44 A . 

17 Hdt. 1.34.1; 2.139.1, 141.3; 5.56; 7.12: cf. Hundt, op. cit ., 42 f. 

18 , nos. 4, 7, etc. (see n. 55); Lindian Chronicle , ed. Blinkenberg, D 14, 68, 98; Isocrates, 10.65; Acts 23: 11. Many 
other examples of this usage are collected by L. Deubner, de incubatione , pp. 11 and 71. 

19 Pindar, Ol . 13.65 ff. Cf. also Paus. 10.38.53, where the dream-figure of Asclepius leaves a letter behind. Old Norse 
incubation-dreams prove their objectivity in a like manner; cf., e.g., Kelchner, op. cit ., 138. The Epidaurian operation-dreams 
(n. 72 below) are a variation on the same theme. For "apports" in theurgy see App. II, n. 126. 

20 II . 22.199 ff. Aristarchus seems to have rejected the lines; but the grounds given in the scholia— that they are "cheap in style 
and thought" and "undo the impression of Achilles' swiftness"— are plainly silly, and the objections of some moderns are not 
much stronger. Leaf, who thinks v. 200 "tautological and awkward," has failed to notice the expressive value of the repeated 
words in conveying the sense of frustration. Cf. H. Frankel, Die homerischen Gleichnisse , 78, and Hundt, op. cit ., 81 ff. 
Wilamowitz found the simile admirable, but "unertraglich" in its present context ( Die I lias u. Homer , 100); his analysis seems 
to me hypercritical. 

21 Od . 19.541 ff. Scholars have thought it a defect in this dream that Penelope is sorry for her geese whereas in waking life she 
is not sorry for the suitors whom they symbolise. But such "inversion of affect" is common in real dreams (Freud, The 
Interpretation of Dreams , 2nd Eng. ed., 375). 




22 II . 5.148 ff. The 6vtipor6\ot here can only be an interpreter ( iKplvaT'fa'iipovf y gut j n the only other Homeric passage 
where the word occurs, II . 1.63, it may mean a specially favoured dreamer (cf. Hundt, op. cit ., 102 f.), which would attest the 
antiquity in Greece of the "sought" dream. 

23 Cf. Sirach 31 04): 1 ff; Laxdaela Saga , 31.15; etc. As Bjorck points out ( lot. cit . 307), without the distinction between 
significant and nonsignificant dreams the art 0 f SvtipoKpiTUcff cou |(-| never have maintained itself. If there was ever a period, 
before the advent of Freud, when men thought all dreams significant, it lies very far back. "Primitives do not accord belief to all 
dreams indiscriminately. Certain dreams are worthy of credence, others not" (Levy-Bruhl, Primitive Mentality , 101). 

24 Od . 19.560 ff. : cf. Hdt. 7.56; Galen, Ttpl Tijt 1$ bvrvluv Slay vfoiat (vi.832 ff. R.); etc. The distinction is implied at Aesch. 

Cho . 534, where I think we should punctuate, with Verrall, O&rOt piTtUOyiiSpbf 6^a»w xAa : "it is not a mere nightmare: it 
is a symbolit vision of a man." Artemidorus and Macrobius recognise the {ybxViovbtrfipavToy and also another type of 
nonsignificant dream, called , which includes, according to Macrobius, ( a ) the nightmare (^tAXn^ ), and ( b ) the 

hypnopompic visions which occur to some persons between waking and sleeping and were first described by Aristotle ( I nsomn . 

462 a 11). 

25 Artemid. 1.2, p. 5 Hercher; Macrobius, in. Somn. Scip . 1.3.2; [Aug.] de spiritu et anima , 25 ( P.L . XL. 798); Joann. Saresb. 
Polycrat . 2.15 ( P.L . CXCIX.429 A ); Nicephoros Gregoras, in Synesium de insomn . ( P.G . CXLIX.608 A .). The passages have 
been collected, and their relationship discussed, by Deubner, de incubatione , 1 ff. The definitions quoted in the text are from 
Macrobius. 

26 This has been shown by J. H. Waszink, Mnemosyne , 9 (1941) 65 ff. Chalcidius' classification combines Platonist with Jewish 
ideas; Waszink conjectures that he may have derived it from Numenius via Porphyry. Direct converse with a god appears also in 
Posidonius' classification, Cic. div . 1.64. 

27 Chalcidius, in Tim . 256, quoting Crito 44 B and Phaedo 60 E . 

28 Aetius, Placita 5.2.3: 'HpAtfxXoj rwy Svtlpvr robs pt» OtovtpTrovs 

xar’ yUeaffar row St Qvauob i &pu6uXoroiovpiinjt faxi* 

t 6 <rvn<j>lpov afirfj xal r6 t&vt an labptvov row 81 <ruyKpapariKovi 
lx roG abrop&rov xar’ «18 &Xu>> xp6<xxto><tu> . . . Srav A fiov\6pi9a 

ut M T&y rdf Ipuplvas Sp^VTCiif b> {rrvq yUtrat jh e | ast: p ar t of this statement has caused much dimity (see Dials 
ad loc., Dox Gr . 416). I think the "mixed" dreams (VvyKpapariKobT ) are dreams of monsters (^a>r4<r^ara ) which on 
Democritus' theory arise from a fortuitous conjunction of iWcoXo , ubi equi atque hominis casu convenit imago (Lucr. 5.741). But 
a dream of one's beloved is not a "mixed" dream in this or any other sense. Galen has 0V7 xpift&ruobt , which Wellmann 
explained as "organic" ( Arch. f. Gesch. d. Med . 16 [1925] 70 ff.). But this does not square with flJ&XttJ' TpbaTTtMir . i 
suggest that ^r*** 4 PovXbptS* *rX illustrates a fourth type, the dream arising from fax* J* ixtffvfila. ( c f Hippocrates, 

\rtpl dtairijtl t 4.93), mention of which has fallen out. 

29 Hdt. 1.34.1, 5.56; Plato, Crito 44 A ; Plutarch, Alex . 26 (on the authority of Heraclides). The uniformity of the literary 
tradition has been noted by Deubner ( de incubatione 13); he quotes many other examples. The type is as common in early 
Christian as in pagan literature (Festugiere, L'Astrologie et les sciences occultes , 51). 

30 E.g., Paus. 3.14.4, the wife of an early Spartan king builds a temple of Thetis tyiv dvtlparos . Dreams about cult 
statues, ibid., 3.16.1, 7.20.4, 8.427; Parrhasios apud Athen. 543 F . Sophocles dedicates a shrine as a result of a dream, Vit. 
Soph . 12, Cic. div . 1.54. 

31 Dittenberger, Sylloge 3 , offers the following instances: Kar , 1147, 1148, 1149; KariSyupov f 1 150; Ktt®’ bffovs , 

1152; Ww ISowralptrlp' r$t (kou ( At h ene ), H51. Probably: 1128 Ka6 ’ */>«/*«• and 1153 «ar’ Ixirayiir also refer to dreams; 
557, an ^^4>S.vua 0 f Artemis, may be a waking vision. Cf. also Edelstein, Asclepius , I, test. 432, 439-442, and for cults 
originating in waking visions, infra , p. 117, and Chron. Lind . A 3: T “ 5 \Qava% ras A ivSias . ■ . 

roXXoTs c[ai koKoU i.va.8ipa<n ipxaxorjirut' xp^wv unbapijrai 
iidt rdv rar 9*ov brubivtiav. 

32 Syll . 3 663; 985. Cf. also P. Cair. Zenon 1.59034, the dreams of Zoilus (who appears to have been a building contractor, and 
had thus every motive for dreaming that Sarapis required a new temple). Many of Aristides' dreams prescribe sacrifices or other 
acts of cult. 

33 Plato, Laws 909 E -910 A , Epin . 985 C . The inscriptions tend to confirm Plato's judgement about the kind of person who 
made a dedication on the strength of a dream; the majority are either dedications to healing deities (Asclepius, Hygieia, Sarapis) 
or dedications by women. 

34 Gadd, Ideas of Divine Rule , 24 ff. 

35 II . 2.80 ff. seems to imply that the dream-experience of a High King is more trustworthy than that of an ordinary man (of. 
Hundt, op. cit ., 55 f.). A later Greek view was that the ffroujclo? was privileged to receive only significant dreams 
(Artemidorus, 4 praef .; of. Plutarch, gen. Socr . 20, 589 B ), which corresponds to the special status as dreamer accorded by 
primitives to the medicine-man, and may be based on Pythagorean ideas (of. Cic. div . 2.119). 

36 Gadd, op. cit ., 73 ff. 

37 Voice, e.g., Lincoln, op. cit ., 198, cf. I Samuel 3:4 ff.; tall man, e.g., Lincoln, op. cit ., 24, cf. Deubner, op. cit ., 12. Some of 
Jung's patients also reported dreams in which an oracular voice was heard, either disembodied or proceeding "from an 
authoritative figure"; he calls it "a basic religious phenomenon" ( Psychology and Religion , 45 f.). 

38 Cf. Seligman, J RAI 54 (1924) 35 f.; Lincoln, op. cit ., 94. 

39 Lincoln, op. cit ., 96 f. 

40. II . 2.20 ff. (Nestor, the ideal father-substitute!); Od . 4.796 ff., 6.22 f. (hardly mother-substitutes, for they are 
with the dreamer). 

41 Aristides, orat . 48.9 (11.396.24 Keil); cf. Deubner, op. cit ., 9, and Christian examples, ibid ., 73, 84. Some primitives are 
less easily satisfied: see, e.g., Lincoln, op. cit ., 255 f., 271 ff. 

42 Strabo, 14.1.44; Philostratus, vit. Apoll . 2.37. Other examples in Deubner, op. cit ., 14 f. 

43 Paus. 1.34.5. Other examples in Deubner, op. cit ., 27 f. Cf. also Halliday, Greek Divination , 131 f., who quotes the curious 




Gaelic incubation rite of "Taghairm," in which the enquirer was wrapped in a bull's hide. 

44 See chap, v, pp. 142, 144. 

45 See n. 79. 

46 Laurel branch, Fulgentius, Mythologiae , 1.14 (on the authority of Antiphon and others). Spells, Artemidorus, 4.2, pp. 205 f. H. 
Sale of dreams, Juv. 6.546 f. On the ^ipstTTjrA j n the papyri see Deubner, op. cit ., 30 ff. 

47 It has been thought that the ^eXXol An X a P a ttwai at Dodona ( II . 16.233 ff.) practised incubation; but if they 
did, did Homer know it? 

48 Cf. Gadd, op. cit ., 26 (temple incubation of Amenophis II and Thothmes IV to obtain the god's approval of their occupying 
the throne). For the Minoans we have no direct evidence; but the terra-cottas found at Petsofa in Crete ( BSA 9.356 ff.), which 
represent human limbs and are pierced with holes for suspension, certainly look like votives dedicated at a healing shrine.— For a 
probable case of incubation in early Mesopotamia see Ztschr. f. Assyr . 29 (1915) 158 ff. and 30 (1916) 101 ff. 

49 Eur. I.T . 1259 ff. (cf. Hec . 70 ff: w , p<Xat'OTT«pi/Ya.'»';i 7 jT<p ivtlpo) V y The authority of this tradition has been 

doubted; but is any other oracular method so likely? Neither inspired prophecy nor divination by lots is appropriate, so far as our 
knowledge goes, to an Earth oracle; whereas the author of Od . 24.12 already seems to regard dreams as chthonic (cf. Hundt, 
op. cit ., 74 ff.). 

50 Pindar, Ol . 13.75 ff. Cf. an inscription from the Athenian Acropolis, Syll . 3 1151: 

A$rp>&$ . . . lAoOcra A pfrfjy Trjt Otov ( no t necessarily a sought dream, but significant of the goddess' attitude); and the 
(probably fictitious) epiphany of Athena in a dream, Blinkenberg, Lindische Tempelchronik , 34 ff. 

51 Hdt. 5.92 h . Melissa was a l^nuofldyaToiJ ( which may have, made hertBwXpJ' more easily available for consultation. Her 
complaint about the cold may be compared with the Norse story of a man who appeared in a dream to say that his feet were 
cold, the toes of his corpse having been left uncovered (Kelchner, op. cit ., 70). 

52. Pelias's (unsought) dream in which the soul of Phrixos asks to be brought home (Pindar, Pyth . 4.159 ff.) probably reflects 
the anxiety of the late Archaic Age about translation of relics, and may thus be classed as a "culture-pattern" dream. Other 
dreams in which the dead appear mostly illustrate the special cases of the Vengeful Dead (e.g., the Erinyes' dream, Aesch. Eum . 
94 ff., or Pausanias' sought dream, Plutarch, Cimon 6 , Paus. 3.17.8 f.), or the Grateful Dead (e.g., Simonides' dream, Cic. div . 
1.56). Dream-apparitions of the recently dead to their surviving relatives are occasionally recorded in their epitaphs as evidence 
of their continued existence (see Rohde, Psyche , 576 f.; Cumont, After Life in Roman Paganism , 61 f.). Such dreams are of 
course natural in all societies; but (apart from Achilles' dream in Homer) the recorded examples of this type are, I think, chiefly 
postclassical. 

53 Alexander Polyhistor apud Diog. Laert. 8.32 (= Diels, Vorsokr . 5 , 58 B la); Posidonius apud Cic. div . 1.64. Alexander's 
account was thought by Wellmann ( Hermes , 54 [1919] 225 ff.) to go back to a fourth-century source which reflected 
old-Pythagorean views; but see Festugiere, REG . 58 (1945) 1 ff., who shows reason for dating the source or sources to the third 
century, and relates the document to the views of the Old Academy and of Diodes of Carystus. 

54 See chap, vi, p. 193. 

55 Ihftara tov 'AxiXXwt'Ot ical roD ’AffxXaxioO , IG IV 2 , i. 121-124. There is a separate edition by R. Herzog, Die 
Wunderheilungen von Epidaurus ( Philol . Suppl. III. 3); and the less mutilated portions are reproduced and translated in 
Edelstein, Asclepius , I, test. 423. 

56 The scene in Aristophanes' Plutus has been quoted as supporting the last view. But I doubt if the poet intended to hint that 
the priest of line 676 was identical with "the god" who appears later. Cario's narrative seems to represent, not what Aristophanes 
thought actually happened, but rather the average patient's imaginative picture of what went on while he slept. 

57 O. Weinreich, Antike Heilungswunder ( RGVV VIII. i), 1909; R. Herzog, op. cit ., 1931; E. J. and L. Edelstein, Asclepius: A 
Collection and I nterpretation of the Testimonies (2 vols., 1945). Mary Hamilton's I ncubation (1906) provides a very readable 
general account for the nonspecialist. 

58 E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture , II, 49. Cf. G. W. Morgan, "Navaho Dreams," American Anthropologist , 34 (1932) 400: "Myths 
influence dreams, and these dreams in turn help to maintain the efficacy of the ceremonies." 

59 Diog. Laert. 6.59. 

60 Plautus, Cure . 216 ff. (= test. 43o Edelstein). Later piety represents failure as a sign of the god's moral disapproval, as in the 
cases of Alexander Severus (Dio Cass. 78.15.6 f. = test. 395) and the drunken youth in Philostratus ( vit. Apoll . 1.9 = test. 

397). But there were also temple legends to hearten the disappointed (l&ftara. 

25). Edelstein thinks these must have been the 

minority ( op. cit ., 11.163); but the history of Lourdes and other healing shrines suggests that no such assumption is necessary. 
"If nothing happens," says Lawson, speaking of incubation in Greek churches today, "they return home with hope lessened, but 
belief unshaken" ( Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion , 302). 

61 Cf., e.g., Lincoln, op. cit ., 271 ff.; and on delays at Epidaurus, Herzog, op. cit ., 67. In some narratives of mediaeval 
incubation the patient waits as much as a year (Deubner, op. cit ., 84), and Lawson speaks of peasants today waiting for weeks 
and months. 

62 Aristides, orat . 48.31 ff. (= test. 177). Maximus of Tyre claims to have had a waking vision of Asclepius (9.7: 

iliov rdv AffxXij tiAx ( AXX ? ). And Iamblichus ( myst . 3.2, p. 104 P.) regards the state between sleeping and 

waking as particularly favourable to the reception of divine visions. 

63 Siyxot was normally a sign of pride, and therefore offensive (^ Ta X®^ r ) to the gods. 

64 Ar p| ut; 733 ff . |lApara| 20 , 26. On the virtue in the dog's lick see H. Scholz, Der Hund in der gr.-rom. Magic u. 

Religion , 13. A fourth-century relief in the National Museum at Athens, no. 3369, has been interpreted by Herzog ( op. cit ., 88 
ff.) as a parallel to 17 . Dedicated by a grateful incubant to the healing hero Amphiaraus, it shows side by side ( a ) the 

healing of an injured shoulder by Amphiaraus in person (the dream?), ( b ) a snake licking it (the objective event?). 

65 IG II 2 , 4962 (= test. 515); Plutarch, soil, anim . 13, 969 E ; Aelian, N.A . 7.13 (= test. 731a, 731). On the offering "to the 
dogs and their keepers (myrffir air y see Farnell, Hero Cults , 261 ff.; Scholz, op. cit ., 49; Edelstein, op. cit ., 11.186, n. 9. 

Plato comicus adapts the phrase to an indecent double entendre (fr. 174.16 K.), which possibly indicates that some Athenians 
found the offering as funny as we do. Are the "keepers" or "dog-leaders" spirits who guide the dog to the appropriate patient? 
They are anyhow not, I think, "huntsmen," human or divine: Xen. Cyneg . 1.2 is no proof that Asclepius ever hunted. 




66 Herodas, 4.90 f. (= test. 482). He is surely a live snake, not a bronze one. Bronze snakes do not live in holes, and 

does not mean "mouth" (as Edelstein, loc. cit . and 11.188, reproducing a slip of Knox), nor does it seem likely that a money-box 
could be called a T/xIryXi] (as Herzog, Arch. f. Rel . 10 [1907] 205 ff.). The natural interpretation is confirmed by Paus. 2.11.8 
(= test. 700a). 

67 The I nterpretation of Dreams , 391. 

68 Cf. ItpcLTO. 31, and the many examples in Deubner, op. cit ., 12. 

69 |14jiara| 1 is a clear example, as Herzog has pointed out. Cf. also G. Vlastos, "Religion and Medicine in the Cult of Asclepius," 
Review of Religion , 1949, 278 ff. 

70 Aristides, orat . 23.16 (= test. 402): XOPOV aiWtrfOt Vpaypa 

roffovro v otnt irXoO KOU’Wflo oDr< lilac k6Xu'v t£>v abrwv rvxtiv, &cov 
XPW a **1 tit ’AcxXfjriov re cvpfrxryaai cal TfXtcff^vat 

r& rp&ra toss' Up&v. 

71 Ar. Plut . 742 ff. 

72 Aristides, orat . 50.64 (= test. 412). Surgical operations on sleeping patients appear also in the fragment of a temple record 
from the Asclepieum at Lebena in Crete ( Inscr. Cret . I.xvii.9 = test. 426), and are attributed to Sts. Cosmas and Damian 
(Deubner, op. cit ., 74). For an old Norse operation-dream see Kelchner, op. cit ., 110. 

73 Instantaneous cures appear also in Christian incubation (Deubner, op. cit ., 72, 82), and are characteristic of savage medicine 
generally (Levy-Bruhl, Primitivt Mentality , 419 f. [Eng. trans.]). 

74 Edelstein rightly stresses the first point ( op. cit ., 11.167, "men in their dreams made the god trust in everything on which 

they themselves relied"); he overlooks the second. The older view which attributed the cures to the medical skill of the priests, 
and attempted to rationalise the Asclepiea as sanatoriums (cf. Farnell, Hero Cults , 273 f., Herzog, op. cit ., 154 ff.), is rightly 
abandoned by Edelstein. As he points out, there is not much real evidence that at Epidaurus and elsewhere physicians, or priests 
trained in medicine, played any part in the temple healings ( op. cit ., 11.158). The Asclepieum at Cos has been claimed as an 
exception; but the medical instruments found there may well be votives dedicated by physicians. (See, however, Aristides, orat . 
49.21 f., where Aristides dreams of an ointment and the provides it; and an inscription in J HS 15 [1985] 121, where 

the patient thanks his doctor as well as the god). 

75 IG IV 2 .i. 126 (= test. 432). Cf. Aristides, orat . 49.30 (= test. 410): 

ri pb (tuv fapn&wr) aMt ov»Tiffth, r 4 SI rur b pin ff xai /coiwS^liou (4 Qt&t) and zingerle's study of the prescriptions 
given to Granius Rufus, Comment Vind . 3 (1937) 85 ff. 

76 Snake poison, Galen, Subfig. Emp . 10, p. 78 Deichgraber (= test. 436); ashes, Inscr. Cret . I.xvii. 17 (= test. 439); cock, IG 
XIV. 966 (= test. 438). Cf. Deubner, op. cit ., 44 ff. 

77 Cf. Edelstein, op. cit ., 11.171 f.; and, contra , Vlastos, loc. cit . (n. 69 above), 282 ff. In their admiration for the rational 
principles of Greek medicine, philosophers and historians have been inclined to ignore or slur over the irrational character of 
many of the remedies employed by ancient physicians (and indeed by all physicians down to rainy recent times). On the 
difficulty of testing drugs before the development of chemical analysis see Temkin, The Falling Sickness , 23 f. Nevertheless, one 
must still agree with Vlastos that "Hippocratic medicine and Asclepius' cures are polar opposites in principle 

78 Aristotle, Insomn . 461 b 6. 

79 Aristides, orat . 36.124; 47.46-50, 65; 48.18 ff., 27, 74 ff. Aristides' obsessive sense of guilt betrays itself also in two curious 
passages ( orat . 48.44 and 51.25) where he interprets the death of a friend as a surrogate for his own; such thoughts are 
symptomatic not so much of callous egotism as of a deep-seated neurosis. For the dream of sacrificing a finger ( orat . 48.27 = 
test. 504) cf. Artemidorus, 1.42. Actual finger-sacrifice is practised by primitives for a variety of purposes (Frazer on Paus. 
8.34.2). One object is to procure significant dreams or visions: see Lincoln, op. cit ., 147, 256, where the practice is explained as 
an appeasement of the Father-figure, whose apportion is desired, by an act which symbolises self-castration. 

80 Campbell Bonner, "Some Phases of Religious Feeling in Later Paganism," Harv. Theol. Rev . 30 (1937) 126. 

81 Cic. N.D . 3.91 (= test. 416a). Cf. Cic. div . 2.123 (= test. 416). For the harm done by reliance on medical dreams cf. 
Soranus' requitrent that a nurse shall not be superstitious, "lest dreams or omens or faith in traditional rituals lead her to neglect 
proper treatment" (1.2. 4. 4, Corp. Med. Grace . IV. 5. 28). 

82 A "census of hallucinations" conducted by the English Society for Psychical Research ( Proc. S.P.R . 10 [1984] 25 ff.) seemed 
to indicate that about one pesos in ten experiences at some time in his life a hallucination not due to physical or mental illness. A 
more recent enquiry by the same society ( J ourn. S.P.R. 34 [1948] 187 ff.) has confirmed this finding. 

83 Chalcidius, in Tim . 256: spectaculum, ut cum vigilantibus offert se videndam caelestis potestas dare iubens aliquid aut 
prohibens forma et voce mirabili. The question whether such epiphanies really occurred was the subject of lively controversy in 
Hellenistic times (Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom . 2.68). For a detailed account of an experience in which the same divine figure was 
simultaneously perceived by one person in a dream and by another in a waking vision, see P. Oxy . XI. 1381.91 ff. 

84 Cf. Wilamowitz, Glaube , 1.23; Pfister in P.-W., Supp. IV, s.v. "Epiphanie," 3.41. As Pfiister says, we cannot doubt that the 
mass of ancient epiphany-stories corresponds to something in ancient religious experience, even though we can seldom or never 
be quite sure that any particular story has a historical basis. 

85 K. Latte, "Hesiods Dichterweihe," Antike u. Abendland , II (1946) 154 ff. 

86 Hesiod, Theog . 22 ff. (cf. chap, iii, p. 81). Hesiod does not claim to have seen the Muses, but only to have heard their 
voices; they were presumably K(Ka Avppbai l)lpi ToXXjJ ^ jh e0 g . 9 ). Some MSS and citations, reading ipl'I'Ocai j n line 31, 
make the Muses pluck a branch of bay and give it to him, which would put the vision into the class of "apport" stories (n. 19 
above). But we should probably prefer the less obvious reading IptyacOat t "they granted me to pluck for myself" a branch of 
the holy tree— the symbolic act expresses his acceptance of his "call." 

87 Hdt. 6.105. Here too the experience may have been purely auditory, though | S use d of it in c. 106. 

88 Aristodemus, apud Schol. Pind. Pyth . 3.79 (137); cf. Paus. 9.25.3, and chap, iii, n. 90. 

89 Sir Ernest Shackleton, South , 209. 

90 Hippocrates, l nt . 48 (VII. 286 L.): ^ *w<r<x rpoffrlxTCi /x 6 Xmtt« 

b dXXo%lfl, xai fjv tov Iptipy 6Mv0aSlfy cal i fi/Sot afrdj'Xd/Jn b ^da/saror Xaji0dm 6i cal fiXXur . The influence of 




the wild environment on Greek religious ideas has been eloquently stressed by Wilamowitz ( Glaube , 1.155, 177 f., and 
elsewhere), but this passage seems to have escaped notice. 

91 Heraclitus, fr. 89 D.; cf. fr. 73 and Sext. Emp. adv. dogm . 1.12 f. (= Heraclitus, A 16). Fr. 26 also seems to refer to 
dream-experience, but is too corrupt and obscure to build anything on (cf. O. Gigon, Untersuehungen zu Heraklit , 95 ff.). Nor 
can I place much reliance on Chalcidius' statement about the views of "Heraclitus and the Stoics" concerning prophecy ( in Tim . 
251 = Heraclitus, A 20). 

92 Fr. 2. 

93 Cic. div . 1.5; Aetius, 5.1.1 (= Xenophanes, A 52). 

94 Hdt. 7.16 b , Mma ri. tl irOpitTOV t TtrAantploa cf. Lucr. 5.724, "rerum simulacra vagari" (from Democritus?). For 
dreams reflecting daytime thoughts cf. also Empedocles, fr. 108. 

95 This point has been made by Bjorck, who sees in Democritus' theory an example of the systematising of popular ideas by 
intellectuals ( Eranos , 44 [1946] 313). But it is also an attempt to naturalise the "supernatural" dream by giving a mechanistic 
explanation (Vlastos, loc. cit ., 284). 

96 Ft. 166, and Plut. Q. Conv . 8.10.2, 734 F (= Democritus, A 77). Cf. Delatte, Enthousiasme , 46 ff., and my paper in Greek 
Poetry and Life: Essays Presented to Gilbert Murray , 369 f. 

97 In popular usage terms like BeixeprTOi came to be largely emptied of their religious content: Artemidorus says that in his 
day anything unexpected was colloquially called OtirtiiVTOo (1.6). 

98 See chap, v, p. 135. 

99 Ar. Vesp . 52 f.; Demetrius of Phaleron apud Plut. Aristides 27. Cf. also Xen. Anab . 7.8.1, where the reading 

tA hinrvta to Avulcpyty patyros is p ro bably sound (Wilamowitz, Hermes , 54 [1919] 65 f.). lAxKpojiAxTeitl were referred to by 
the early comic poet Magnes (fr. 4 K.), and appear to have been satirised in the Telmessiahs of Aristophanes. S. Luria, "Studien 
zur Geschichte der antiken Traumdeutung," Bull. Acad, des Sciences de I'U.R.S.S . 1927, 1041 ff., is perhaps right in 
distinguishing two schools of dream-interpretation in the Classical Age, one conservative and religious, the other 
pseudo-scientific, though I cannot follow him in all his detailed conclusions. Faith in the art was not confined to the masses; both 
Aeschylus and Sophocles recognise the interpretation of dreams as an important branch of 1 pojrriKlt ( P.V . 485 f.; El . 497 ff.). 

100 Antiphon A T«paTOff*Axor , w ho is presumably the author of the dreambook quoted by Cicero and Artemidorus (cf. 
Hermogenes, de ideis , 2.11.7 = Vorsokr . 87 A 2 , A rtparoffK&xo i tal ivupo Kpln/iAiyiptoos ytoMlai ^ was a 

contemporary of Socrates (Diog. Laert. 2.46 = Aristotle, fr. 75 R. = Vorsokr . 87 A 5). He is often identified, on the authority of 
Hermogenes, loc. cit ., and Suidas, with the sophist Antiphon; but this is not easy to accept. ( a ) It is hard to attribute a deep 
respect for dreams and portents to the author of the v*pl AX»)0«ias / w ho "disbelieved in providence" ( Vorsokr . 87 B 12; cf. 
Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos , 389); ( b ) Artemidorus and Suidas call the writer of the dreambook an Athenian ( Vorsokr . 80 
B 78, A I), while Socrates' use of Tap’ Jjitr 

at Xen. Mem . 1.6.13 seems to me to imply that the sophist was a foreigner (which 
would also forbid identification of the sophist with the orator). 

101 Jaeger, Paideia , III. 33 ff. Previous scholars had generally attributed the T< P L to the late fifth century. 

102 That dreams can be significant symptoms in illness is recognised elsewhere in the Hippocratic corpus ( Epidem . 1.10, 11.670 
L.; Hum . 4, V.480; Hebd . 45, IX. 460). In particular, anxiety dreams are seen to be important symptoms of mental trouble, 

Morb . 2.72, VII. 110; I nt . 48, VII. 286. Aristotle says the most accomplished physicians believe in taking serious account of 

dreams, div . p. somn . 463 a 4. But the author 0 f , ' f P^ lt Ni carries this essentially sound principle to fantastic lengths. 

103 Stolnjr 4.37 (vi. 640 L.): ix6ca pb> oiv two to\ncolt>jv 0«T& 

i<m ital rpotnjpalxi nxA myiftfripCF a . . . fUrlo ot KplxomriTtpl rCso rounlnwo A<cpt/3»} Wxwjx , and ibid ., 

93: hc6ff a MAoic&t A fotipwrot Btwphiv two vwrfiwv, irtBvplrfo cr)pa.b>u 

104 l bid 86: AkAtox M tA cwpa ^auxdfn, A nvtvpivrj ical Ivt^ipTovaa 

tA plpr t rou awp ctm Aionc^a riv iwvrrji olxot' ktX cf. chap.v, p. 135, and Galen's observation that "in sleep the soul seems to 
sink into the depths of the body, withdrawing from external sense-objects, and so becomes aware of the bodily condition" ( 

T«pl Af ixVTxlwx biny vAmM ( vi.834 Kuhn). The influence of "Orphic" ideas on Ttpl Stain}! 4.86 has been pointed out by 
A. Palm, Studien zur Hippokratischen Schriftir . Atalnir ; 62 ff. 

105 Ibid ., 90, 92. For the detailed correspondence of macrocosm and microcosm cf. Hebd . 6 (IX. 436 L.). 

106 Freud, op. cit ., 299: "every dream treats of one's own person." 

107 For the tree as a symbol of reproduction cf. Hdt. 1.108 and Soph. El . 419 ff.; a like symbolism is found in some old Norse 
dreams (Kelchner, op. cit ., 56). Similarities of interpretation between the T . Atalnjs and ancient Indian dreambooks have led 
to the suggestion of Oriental influence on the Greek medical writer, or on the Greek dreambook which he used (Palm, Studien 
zur Hipp. Schriftir . Aialn/! r 83 ff., followed by Jaeger, Paideia , III. 39). Others on grounds of the same kind have postulated an 
early Greek dream-book as a common source of Artemidorus and the T . Acalnj! (c. Fredrich, Hippokratische Untersuehungen , 
213 f.). But such inferences are fragile. The art of AmpoJtpiTi*^ was ( anc | j S ) an a rt 0 f se eing analogies (Arist. div. p. somn . 464 

b 5), and the more obvious analogies can hardly be missed. Professor Rose has pointed out detailed similarities between 
Artemidorus' system and that now in vogue in Central Africa ( Man , 26 [1926] 211 f.). Cf. also Latte, Gnomon , 5.159. 

108 I bid ., 87; cf. Palm, op. cit ., 75 ff. Theophrastus' Superstitious Man asks the Axtipoirplrai every time he has a dream 
rln BtQ ij Bt^x pootbxtodon Jft ( char . 16). 

109 Plato, Tim . 71 A-E . 

110 Insomn . 458 b 25 ff., 460 b 3 ff. 

111 Div. p. somn . 463 b 15 ff., 464 a 20 ff. 

112 Ibid ., 463 b 14; cf. Freud, Interpretation of Dreams , 2. I cannot agree with Boyance ( Culte des Muses , 192) that when 

Aristotle calls dreams AaipAxta he is thinking of the Pythagorean (? post-Aristotelian) doctrine that they are caused by | 

in the air (see n. 53). And Boyanee is certainly wrong in claiming Aristotle as an unqualified believer in the mantle dream. 




113 T *Pl ^iWo^iar ( fr 10 . C f. Jaeger, Aristotle , 162 f., 333 f. (Eng. ed.). 

114 Div. p. somn . 464 a 5. 

115 Ibid 463 a 4 ff., 27 ff. 

116 Ibid 464 a 6 ff. Aristotle further suggests that the mind responds best to such minute stimuli when it is empty and 
passive, as in some types of insanity (464 a 22 ff.); and that there must be a selective factor at work, since veridical dreams 
usually concern friends, not strangers (464 a 27 ff.) 

117 Cf. Cic. div . 1.70 f. Cicero attributes the religious view even to Aristotle's pupil Dicaearchus ( ibid ., 1.113, 2.100); but this 
is not easy to reconcile with Dicaearchus' other recorded opinions, and may be due to a misapprehension (F. Wehrli, Dikaiarchos 
, 46). 

118 Cic. div . 2.150. The civilised rationalism of de divinatione , Book 2, in this closing passage has hardly been sufficiently 
appreciated. 

119 Cf. the formidable list of authorities on lAVlipoKpiTreJJ now | os t ; j n Bouche-Leclercq, Hist, de la Divination , 1.277. 

Dreambooks are still much studied in Greece (Lawson, op. cit ., 300 f.). Marcus Aurelius' enumeration of his personal debts to 
Providence includes *# V ivtipiruv Pmffluara SoOfjvcu, IXXa U <ai df rritiw alpa ca i lX»rr»S* (1.17.9); cf. also 
Fronto, Epist . 3.9.1 f. For Plutarch's reliance on dream advice see Q. Conv . 2.3.1, 635 E ; for Galen's, see his commentary on 
Hipp. 2.2 (XVI. 219 ff. K.). Dio Cassius is instructed by his iaifiSriow j n a dream to write history, 72.23. 

V The Greek Shamans and the Origin of Puritanism. 

1 Pindar, fr. 116 B. (131 S.). Rohde rightly emphasised the importance of this fragment ( Psyche , 415), though he was wrong in 
reading back some of its ideas into Flomer ( ibid ., 7); cf. Jaeger, Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers , 75 f.— The view that 
the experient subject in dreams' is an unchanging "deeper" self is naturally suggested to the mind by the way in which a long 
dead and even a forgotten past can be reinstated in sleep. As a modern writer puts it, "In dreams not only are we free of the 
usual limitations of time and space, not only do we return to our past and probably go forward to our future, but the self that 
apparently experiences these strange adventures is a more essential self, of no particular age " (J. B. Priestley, J ohnson over 

J ordan ). 

2 Xen. Cyrop . 8.7.21. 

3 Plato, Rep . 571 D ff. : when the \oyiffTinby in sleep is ainb kq.Q’ avTbpbvov ko Bapbv (which is not always the case), it can 
perceive something it did not know before, whether in the past, the present, or the future, and 

rtfr AXijfftiat b> rip rotovTifi pa\iara olttt trai , Aristotle, fr. 10 = Sext. Emp. adv. Phys . 1.21: bray yap tv rip irrvoiiv 
k ad' aM/y yiy vtrai fi r6rt ri/y t5iov airoXa/JoD<ra 4>voiv irpopavrtvtra'i, 

rt Kai wpoayopfvu ra ptXKovr a. rcnai'Ty it tan neat tvru K ard t6v da.ya.Tov x<*>plf«T0<u ruv auparuv i C f j ae ger, Aristotle , 
162 f. See also Hipp. Stacrijr ; 4 . 86 , quoted above, chap, iv, n. 104; and Aesch. Eum . 104 f., where the poet has combined 
the old "objective" dream with the idea that the mind itself is gifted with prescience in sleep, which seems to derive from a 
different pattern of belief. For the importance attached by the Pythagoreans to dreams cf. Cic. div . 1.62; Plut. gen. Socr . 585 E 
; Diog. L. 8.24. 

4 "The question whether one's conscious personality survives after death has been answered by almost all races of men in the 
affirmative. On this point sceptical or agnostic peoples are nearly, if not wholly, unknown." Frazer, The Belief in Immortality , I, 
33. 

5 The archaeological evidence is conveniently assembled and collated in Joseph Wiesner's Grab und Jenseits (1938), though 
doubt may be felt about the validity of some of the inferences he draws from it. 

6 See Levy-Bruhl, The "Soul" of the Primitive , 202 f., 238 ff., and L'Exp. mystique , 151 ff. That the belief in survival was not 
originally arrived at by any process of logical thought (as Tylor and Frazer had assumed), but rather by a refusal to think, the 
unconscious turning of a blind eye to unwelcome evidence, is now held by many anthropologists: cf. e.g., Elliot Smith, The 
Evolution, of the Dragon , 145 f.; Malinowski, Magic, Science and Religion , 32 f.; K. Meuli, "Griech. Opferbrauche," in Phyllobolia 
fur Peter yon der Muhll (1946); Nilsson in Harv. Theol Rev . 42 (1949) 85 f. 

7 11. 23.103 f.; Od . 11.216-224. The significance of these passages, with their implication of novelty, has been rightly stressed 
by Zielinski ("La Guerre a I'outretombe," in Melanges Bidez , II. 1021 ff., 1934), though he went a little far in seeing the Flomeric 
poets as religious reformers comparable in earnestness with the Flebrew prophets. 

8 Not only object-offerings but actual feeding-tubes are found even in cremation burials (Nock, Harv. Theol Rev . 25 [1932] 

332). At Olynthus, where nearly 600 interments of the sixth to the fourth century B.C. have been examined, object-offerings 
are, in fact, commonest in cremation burials (D. M. Robinson, Excavations at Olynthus , XI. 176). This must mean one of two 
things: either that cremation was after all not intended, as Rohde thought, to divorce ghost from corpse by abolishing the latter; 
or else that the old unreasoning habits of tendance were too deeply rooted to be disturbed by any such measures. Meuli, loc. cit 
., points out that in Tertullian's time people continued to feed the cremated dead ( earn, resurr . 1, [vulgus] defunctos 
atrocissime exurit, quos post modum gulosissime nutrit); and that, despite the initial disapproval of the Church, the use of 
feeding-tubes has persisted in the Balkans almost down to our own day. Cf. also Lawson, Mod. Gr. Folklore , 528 ff., and on the 
whole question, Cumont, Lux Perpetua , 387 ff. 

9 Plut. Solon 21: Cic. de legg . 2.64-66. Cf. also Plato's protest against wasteful funeral expenditure, Laws 959 C , and the law of 

the Labyadae, which prohibits inter alia the dressing of the corpse in too expensive grave-clothes (Dittenberger, Syll . 2 
11.438.134). But the phantasy of the corpse-ghost is of course only one of the feelings which find satisfaction in costly funerals 
(cf. Nock, JRS 38 [1948] 155). 

10 II . 3.278 f., 19.259 f. It is extremely unwise to impose eschatological consistency on Homer (or anyone else) at the cost of 
emendation, excision, or distorting the plain meaning of words. These oath-formulae of the Iliad preserve a belief which was 
older than Homer's neutral Hades (for such formulae archaise, they do not innovate) and had far greater vitality. 

11 H. Dem . 480 ff. On the probable date of the Hymn (which excludes any likelihood of "Orphic" influence) see Allen and 
Halliday, The Homeric Hymns 2 , 111 ff. 

12 This was maintained by Wilamowitz in his rash youth ( Horn. Untersuchungen , 199 ff.); but he recanted later ( Glaube , 
11.200). 




13 Aesch. Eum . 267 ff., 339 f.; Suppl . 414 ff. Cf. Wehrli, Ad0« 0iu<rai ; go. That in the Classical Age the fear of punishment 
after death was not confined to "Orphic" or Pythagorean circles, but might haunt any guilty conscience, seems to be implied by 
Democritus, frs. 199 and 297, and Plato, Rep . 330 D . 

14 Pindar, fr. 114 B. (130 S.). For the horses cf. II . 23.171 and Wiesner, op. cit ., 136 3 , 152 11 , 160 etc.; for the irtvvoi , 
Wiesner, 146. 

15 Anacreon, fr. 4; Semonides of Amorgos, fr. 29. 14 D. ( = Simonides of Ceos, fr. 85 B.); IG XII. 9. 287 (Friedlander, 
Epigrammata , 79). Hipponax has a similar use of 'r ^XV , fr. 42 D. (43 B.). 

16 G. R. Hirzel, "Die Person," Munch. Sitzb . 1914, Abh. 10. 

17 Soph. O.T . 64 f., 643. But although each phrase could be replaced by the personal pronoun, they are not (as Hirzel 

suggested) interchangeable; could not have been used at 64, nor'f'-'X 7 ? at 643. 

18 IG I 2 .920 (= Friedlander, Epigrammata , 59), i v X ft] ( ca . 500 B.C. ); cf. Eur. Hel 52 f., 

j/vxai ii iroXXai 5i’ tpt . . . Wat>ov , and Tro . 1214 f., lJ'i'X'7*' . Pindar, 01 . 9.33 ff.: 

oW ’Alias imP^TU v ?)(< pkSbov, 0p6rta. ouiuad $ Karbyti KoiXaPrpfa ayviav dv^axSvruv ( C f virg. Geo 4.475 = Aen 

6.306). 

19 The Hertz Lecture, 1916, Proc. Brit. Acad . VII. L.-S., s.v. , has failed to profit by Burnet's investigation. For tragedy, 
the lexicographical material is collected by Martha Assmann, Mens et Animus , I (Amsterdam, 1917). 

20 Soph. Ant . 176. Cf. 707 f., where is contrasted with fawtip , and Eur. Ale . 108. 

21 E.g., Antiphon, 5.93; Soph. El . 902 f. 

22 I am inclined to agree with Burner that this must be the meaning of Eur. Tro . 1171 f.; it is hardly natural to construe 
I ff fl t l, xrb otherwise than with ypoiit . 

23 Eur. Hec . 87. 

24 Cf. phrases like 5itt PVX&V Pkirwoa. ivxi , Soph. Phil . 1013, and rpo S htpov pvt\6v ivXV* , Eur. Hipp . 255. 

25 Soph. Ant . 227. 

26 That the word carried no puritanical associations is evident from phrases like^xS T &v iyaffui v (Sem. 

Amorg. 29.14), t v XV M4wt *00’ i )pipap (Aesch. Pers . 841), ffopa^ux^ iwXrjpcw (Eur. Ion 1169). And how remote 

it was in common speech from religious or metaphysical implications is nicely shown by a passage from the devout Xenophon (if 
it be his): when he sets out to provide the uninventive with a list of suitable names for dogs, the very first name that occurs to 
him is *VXV ( Cyneg . 7.5). 

27 Like Svfibt j n H. Apoll . 361 f., is sometimes thought of as residing in the blood: Soph. EL 785 

ToCfidr toru-oiw’ id fuxvt&Kparor alpa . , and Ar. Nub . 712 ti)* fax*!* harivovaiv (oi *6p«is ). This is popular usage, not 
philosophical speculation as in Empedocles, fr. 105. But the medical writers also tend, as we should naturally expect, to stress 
the close interdependence of mind and body, and the importance of affective elements in the life of both. See W. Muri, 
"Bemerkungen zur hippokratischen Psychology, " Festschrift Tieche (Bern, 1947). 

28 E. Rohde, "Die Religion der Griechen," 27 ( Kl. Schriften , 11.338). 

29 Gruppe's thesis of the origin of Orphism in Asia Minor has lately been reaffirmed by Ziegler, P.-W., s.v. "Orphische Dichtung," 
1385. But the weakness of the case is that those divine figures of later Orphism which are certainly of Asiatic origin— Erikepaios, 
Misa, Hipta, the polymorphic winged Chronos— have no demonstrable existence in early Orphic literature and may easily be 
importations of a later age. Herodotus' derivation of the rebirth theory from Egypt is impossible, for the good reason that the 
Egyptians had no such theory (see Mercer, Religion of Ancient Egypt , 323, and the authorities cited by Rathmann, Quaest. Pyth 

. 48). A derivation from India is unproved and intrinsically improbable (Keith, Rel. and Phil, of Veda and Upanishads , 601 ff.). It 
seems possible, however, that the Indian and the Greek belief may have the same ultimate source; see below, n. 97. 

30 On the character and diffusion of shamanistic culture see K. Meuli, "Scythica," Hermes , 70 (1935) 137 ff., a brilliant paper to 
which I owe the idea of this chapter; G. Nioradze, Der Schamanismus bei den Sibirischen Volkern (Stuttgart, 1925); and the 
interesting though speculative book of Mrs. Chadwick, Poetry and Prophecy (Cambridge, 1942). For detailed descriptions of 
shamans see W. Radloff, Aus Sibirien (1885); V. M. Mikhailovski, J RAI 24 (1895) 62 ff., 126 ff.; W. Sieroszewski, Rev. de I'hist. 
des rel . 46 (1902) 204 ff., 299 ff.; M. A. Czaplicka, Aboriginal Siberia (1914), who gives a full bibliography; I. M. Kasanovicz, 
Smithsonian I nst. Annual Report , 1924; U. Holmberg, Finno-Ugric and Siberian Mythology (1927). The connection of Scythian 
with Ural-Altaic religious ideas was noticed by the Hungarian scholar Nagy and is accepted by Minns ( Scythians and Greeks , 

85). 

31 It would appear that in some modern forms of shamanism the dissociation is a mere fiction; in others there is evidence that it 
is quite real (cf. Nioradze, op. cit ., 91 f., 100 f.; Chadwick, op. cit ., 18 ff.). The latter is presumably the older type, which the 
former conventionally imitates. A. Ohlmarks, Arch. f. Rel . 36 (1939) 171 ff., asserts that genuine shamanistic trance is confined 
to the arctic region and is due to "arctic hysteria," but see the criticisms of M. Eliade, Rev. de I'hist. des rel . 131 (1946) 5 ff. The 
soul may also leave the body in illness (Nioradze, op. cit ., 95; Mikhailovski, loc. cit ., 128), and in ordinary sleep (Nioradze, op. 
cit ., 21 ff.; Czaplicka, op. cit ., 287; Holmberg, op. cit ., 472. ff.). 

32 On these "Greek shamans" see also Rohde, Psyche , 299 ff. and 327 ff., where most of the evidence about them is collected 
and discussed; H. Diels, Parmenides' Lehrgedicht , 14 ff.; and Nilsson, Gesch . 1.582 ff., who accepts Meuli's view of them. It 
may perhaps be argued that shamanistic behaviour is rooted in man's psycho-physical make-up, and that something of the kind 
may therefore have appeared among the Greeks independently of foreign influence. But against this there are three things to be 
said: (1) such behaviour begins to be attested among the Greeks as soon as the Black Sea is opened to Greek colonisation, and 
not before; (2) of the earliest recorded "shamans," one is a Scythian (Abaris), another a Greek who had visited Scythia 
(Aristeas); (3) there is sufficient agreement in concrete detail between ancient Greco-Scythian and modern Siberian shamanism 
to make a hypothesis of simple "convergence" look rather improbable: examples are the shaman's change of sex in Scythia and 
Siberia (Meuli, loc. cit ., 127 ff.), the religious importance of the arrow (n. 34 below), the religious retreat (n. 46), the status of 
women (n. 59), the power over beasts and birds (n. 75), the underworld journey to recover a soul (n. 76) the two souls (n. 

Ill), and the resemblance in cathartic methods (nn. 118, 119). Some of these things are very likely coincidences; taken 
separately, none of them is decisive; but their collective weight seems to me considerable. 

33 This tradition, though preserved only by later writers, looks older than Herodotus' rationalising version (4.36) in which Abaris 
carries the arrow (his motive for doing so is not explained). Cf. Corssen, Rh. Mus . 67 (1912) 40, and Meuli, loc. cit ., 159 f. 




34 This seems to me to be implicit in the Buryat shaman's use of arrows to summon back the souls of the sick, and also at 
funerals (Mikhailovski, loc. cit ., 128, 135). Shamans also divine from the flight of arrows ( ibid ., 69, 99); and it is said that the 
Tatar shaman's "external soul" is sometimes lodged in an arrow (N. K. Chadwick, J RAI 66 [1936] 311). Other shamans can ride 
the air on a "horse-staff" like witches on a broomstick (G. Sandschejew, Anthropos , 23 [1928] 980). 

35 Hdt. 4.36. 

36 For the "Hyperborean Apollo" cf. Alcaeus, fr. 72 Lobel (2 B.); Pindar, Pyth . 10.28 ff . ; Bacchyl. 3.58 ff.; Soph. fr. 870 N.; A. 

B. Cook, Zeus , 11.459 ff. A. H. Krappe, CPh 37 (1942) 353 ff., has shown with great probability that the origins of this god are 
to be looked for in northern Europe: he is associated with a northern product, amber, and with a northern bird, the whooper 
swan; and his "ancient garden" lies at the back of the north wind (for the obvious etymology of "Hyperborean" is probably after 
all the right one). It would seem that the Greeks, hearing of him from missionaries like Abaris, identified him with their own 
Apollo (possibly from a similarity of name, if Krappe is right in supposing him to be the god of Abalus, "apple island," the 
mediaeval Avalon), and proved the identity by giving him a place in the temple legend of Delos (Hdt. 4.32 ff.). 

37 Aristeas, frs. 4 and 7 Kinkel; Alfoldi, Gnomon , 9 (1933) 567 f. I may add that Aeschylus' blind "swan-shaped maidens" who 
never see the sun ( P.V . 794 ff., perhaps from Aristeas) have also a good parallel in the "swan-maidens" of Central Asiatic 
belief, who live in the dark and have eyes of lead (N. K. Chadwick, J RAI 66 [1936] 313, 316. As to Aristeas' journey, Herodotus' 
account (4.13 f.) is ambiguous, and may reflect an attempt to rationalise the story (Meuli, loc. cit ., 157 f.). In Maximus of Tyre, 
38.3, it is definitely the soul of Aristeas which visits the Hyperboreans in the shamanistic manner. The details given in Herodotus 
4.16, however, suggest a real journey. 

38 Hdt. 4.15.2; Pliny, N.H . 7.174. Compare the soul-birds of the Yakut and Tungus tribes (Holmberg, op. cit ., 473, 481); also 
the bird-costumes worn by Siberian shamans when shamanising (Chadwick, Poetry and Prophecy , 58 and pi. 2); and the belief 
that the first shamans were birds (Nioradze, op. cit ., 2). Soul-birds are widely distributed, but it is not certain that early Greece 
knew them (Nilsson, Gesch . 1.182 f.). 

39 Soph. El . 62 ff. The tone is rationalistic, suggesting the influence of his friend Herodotus; he no doubt has in mind stories like 
the one Herodotus tells of Zalmoxis (4.95), which rationalises Thracian shamanism. The Lapps used to believe that their 
shamans "walked" after death (Mikhailovski, loc. cit ., 150 f.); and in 1556 the English traveller Richard Johnson saw a Samoyed 
shaman "die" and then reappear alive (Hakluyt, 1.317 f.). 

40 H. Diels, "Ueber Epimenides yon Kreta," Berl. Sitzb . 1891, 1.387 ff. The fragments are now Vorsokr . 3 B (formerly 68 B). Cf. 
also H. Demoulin, Epimenide de Crete (Bibl. de la Fac. de Phil, et Lettres Liege, fasc. 12). Wilamowitz' scepticism ( Hippolytos , 
224, 243 f.) appears excessive, though some of E.'s oracles were certainly forged. 

41 The prestige of Cretan Kaffaprai in the Archaic Age is attested by the legend that Apollo was purified after the slaying of 
Python by Karmanor the Cretan (Paus. 2.30.3, etc.); cf. also the Cretan Thaletas who expelled a plague from Sparta in the 

J 

seventh century (Pratinas, fr. 8 B.). On the Cretan cave-cult see Nilsson, Minoan-Myc. Religion , 458 ff. Epimenides was called 
•'*>* Kovpr/t (Piut. Sol . 12, Diog. L. 1.115). 

42 The tradition of psychic excursion was possibly transferred to Epimenides from Aristeas; Suidas attributes the power to each 
of them in much the same terms. Similarly Epimenides' post-mortem apparition (Proclus, in Remp . 11.113 Kr.) may be imitated 
from that of Aristeas. But the tradition of the fairy food looks older, if only because of the unexplained ox's hoof. It is traceable 
as far back as Herodorus (fr. 1 J.), whom Jacoby dates ca . 400 B.C. , and seems to be referred to by Plato, Laws 677 E . It is 
tempting to connect it ( a ) with the tradition of Epimenides' miraculously long life, and ( b ) with the Thracian "recipe for 
escaping death" (n. 60 below). 

43 t 6 bippa tvpfjadai ypappaai kotAgtutoi' , Suid. s.v. (= Epimenides A 2). The source of this may be the Spartan historian 

Sosibius, ca . 300 B.C . (cf. Diog. Laert. 1.115). Suidas adds that r A bippa was proverbial for anything hidden ( 

iiri twv airoOtTW v ). But I cannot accept the curious theory of Diels ( op. cit ., 399) and Demoulin ( op. cit ., 69) that this phrase 
originally referred to a vellum MS of E.'s works, and was later misunderstood as referring to his tattooed skin. Compare, 
perhaps, S Lucian, p. 124 Rabe, ****«» * TIw9a7opas r$ «<£!<*> avrov pijpu r&vQoipov _ Is this a 

rationalisation of the mysterious "golden thigh"? Or was the historical kernel of that tale a sacral tattoo-mark or natural 
birthmark ? 

44 Hdt. 5.6.2 T <* piv iarixOai tbytvis nUpirai, t 6 bi &<ttiktov kytvvii . The Thracian shaman "Zalmoxis" had a tattoo-mark on 
his forehead which Greek writers, unaware of its religious significance, explained by saying that he had been captured by pirates, 
who branded him for the slave-market (Dionysophanes apud Porph. vit. Pyth . 15, where Delatte, Politique pyth ., 228, is surely 
wrong in identifying the fictitious Xperrai with local anti-Pythagorean insurgents). That the Thracians practised sacral tattooing 
was known to Greek vase-painters: Thracian maenads tattooed with a fawn appear on several vases (JHS 9 [1888] pi. VI; P. 
Wolters, Hermes , 38 [1903] 268; Furtwangler-Reichhold, III, Tafel 178, where some are also tattooed with a snake). For 
tattooing as a mark of dedication to a god cf. also Hdt. 2.113 (Egyptian), and the examples from various sources discussed by 
Dolger, Sphragis , 41 ff. Tattooing was likewise practised by the Sarmatians and Dacians (Pliny, N.H . 22.2), the Illyrians (Strabo 
7.3.4), the "picti Agathyrsi" in Transylvania whom Virgil represents as worshipping (the Hyperborean) Apollo ( Aen . 4.146), and 
other Balkan and Danubian peoples (Cook, Zeus , 11.123). But the Greeks thought it a ‘ cr\pi6v teal inpov (Sextus Empiricus, 
Pyrrh. Hyp . 3.202; cf. Diels, Vorsokr . 5 90 [83] 2.13). 

45 Frazer, Pausanias , II, 121 ff. 

46 Cf. Rohde, Psyche , chap, ix, n. 117; Halliday, Greek Divination , 91, n. 5; and for the long sleeps of shamans, Czaplicka, op. 
cit ., 179. Holmberg, op. cit ., 496, quotes the case of a shaman who had lain "motionless and unconscious" for over two months 
at the time of his "call." Compare the long underground retreat of Zalmoxis (n. 60 below). Diels thought ( loc. cit ., 402) that the 
Long Sleep was invented to reconcile chronological discrepancies in the various tales of Epimenides. But if this were the only 
motive, Long Sleeps should be very common in early Greek history. 

47 I leave out of account here Meuli's hazardous speculations about shamanistic elements in the Greek epic ( loc. cit ., 164 ff.). 
On the lateness of Greek access to the Black Sea, and the reason for it, see Rhys Carpenter, AJ A 52 (1948) 1 ff. 

48 This was already clearly recognised by Rohde, Psyche , 301 f. 

49 Proclus, in Remp . 11.122.22 ff. Kr. (= Clearchus, fr. 7 Wehrli). The story cannot, unfortunately, be treated as historical (cf. 
Wilamowitz, Glaube , 11.256, and H. Lewy, Harv. Theol. Rev . 31 [1938] 205 ff.). 

50 Ar. Met . 984 b 19; cf. Diels on Anaxagoras A 58. Zeller-Nestle, 1.1269, n. 1, would dismiss Aristotle's statement as entirely 
baseless. But Iamb. Protrept . 48.16 (= Ar. fr. 61) supports the idea that Anaxagoras did appeal to the authority of Hermotimus. 

51 Diog. Laert. 1.114 ( Vorsokr . 3 A 1): XfytTai Ai in ko. 1 irpurof (V purov casaubon, optAj cj. Diels) 




a irrdv Ala«c5»> \iyoi . . . xpotrxotrj&TjvaiTt to>X«uis &ra(it(iiwKii'ai . The words lM> Alaxdv \iyot S how that in0tffmninu 

cannot refer merely to psychic excursion, as Rohde suggested ( Psyche , 331). 

52 Ar. Rhet . 1418 2 24: yip re pi rue taoptvuv oi)K ipavniifTO r aXXd xtpl Tuv ytyoviruv, aiijXwt' 54 _ For a 

different explanation of this statement see Bouche-Leclercq, Hist, de la divination , II. 100. 

53 H. Diels, loc. cit . (n. 40 above), 395. 

54 Apud Diog. Laert. 8.4. Cf. Rohde, Psyche , App. X, and A. Delatte, La Vie de Pythagore de Diogene Laerce , 154 ff. Others 
gave him a different series of lives (Dicaearchus, fr. 36 w.). 

55 Empedocles, fr. 129 D. (cf. Bidez, La Biographie d'Empedocle , 122 f.; Wilamowitz, "Die Ka#ap#ioi des Empedokles," Berl. 
Sitzb . 1929, 651); Xenophanes, fr. 7 D. I find quite unconvincing Rathmann's attempt to discredit both these traditions in his 
Quaestiones Pythagoreae, Orphicae, Empedocleae (Halle, 1933). Xenophanes seems to have made fun also of the tall stories 
about Epimenides (fr. 20). Burnet's way of translating the Empedocles fragment, "though he lived ten, yea, twenty generations 
of men ago" ( EGPh 1 , :236)— which would exclude any reference to Pythagoras— is linguistically quite impossible. 

56 Mikhailovski, loc. cit . (n. 30 above), 85, 133; Sieroszewski, loc. cit ., 314; Czaplicka, op. cit ., 213, 280. The last-named 
attributes a general belief in reincarnation to a number of Siberian peoples (130, 136, 287, 290). 

57 Aeacus seems to be an old sacral figure, perhaps Minoan: he was in life a magical rainmaker (Isocrates, Evag . 14, etc.), and 
after death was promoted to be Porter of Hellgate (ps.-Apollod. 3.12.6; cf. Eur. Peirithous fr. 591, Ar. Ran . 464 ff.) or even a 
Judge of the dead (Plato, Apol . 41 A , Gorg . 524 A ; cf. Isocr. Evag . 15). 

58 Diog. Laert. 8.4. Another of Pythagoras' avatars, Aethalides, was said by Pherecydes of Syros to have been given the power 
of rebirth as a special privilege ( S Apoll. Rhod. 1.645 = Pherecydes fr. 8). I agree with Wilamowitz ( Platon , 1.251, n. 1) that 
such stories are not products of philosophical theorising, but that on the contrary the theory is a generalisation suggested (in 
part, at least) by the stories. On reincarnation as a privilege limited to shamans see P. Radin, Primitive Religion , :274 f. 

59 The status allowed to women in the Pythagorean community is exceptional for Greek society in the Classical Age. But it is 
worth noticing that in many Siberian societies today women, as well as men, are eligible for the status of shaman. 

60 Hdt. 4.95. Cf. 4.93: WrM tow ifovraj , 5 . 4 : Ttrot oi affavarit’oi'Ttr . a nd Piato, Charm . 156 D : 

tuv Op^Kuv tHiv ZaXpo^iSof mTpwi' f o! \tyoPTat Ml dxaOavaTi feu* These phrases mean, not that the Getae "believe in the 
immortality of the soul," but that they have a recipe for escaping death (Linforth, CPh 13 [1918] 23 ff.). The nature of the 
escape which "Zalmoxis" promised to his followers is, however, far from clear. It seems possible that Herodotus' informants had 
fused into one story several distinct ideas, viz., ( a ) the earthly paradise of the "Hyperborean Apollo," to which, as to the 
Aegean Elysium, some men are translated bodily without dying ( G ‘ f i xtpitSvrts f c f. Bacchyl. 3.58 ff. and Krappe, CPh 37 
[1942] 353 ff.): hence the identification of Zalmoxis with Kronos (Mnaseas, FHG III, fr. 23); cf. Czaplicka, op. cit ., 176: "There 
exist traditions about shamans who were carried away still living from the earth to the sky"; ( b ) the disappearing_shaman who 
vanishes for long periods into a sacred cave: Hdt.'s Kar&yaiov obey pa and Strabo's ifrpuiii ft \uptov Uparop Toil AXXoty 
(7.3.5) look like rationalised versions of the cave where an i-vdporxoSaipuv dwells undying, Rhesus , 970 ff., cf. Rohde, Psyche , 
279; ( c ) perhaps also a belief in transmigration (Rohde, loc. cit .); cf. the explicit statement of Mela that some Thracians 
"redituras putant animas obeuntium" (2.18), and Phot., Suid., EM , s.v. 7.apo\£i% ■ but there is nothing about "souls" in 
Herodotus' account. 

61 Herodotus knows that Zalmoxis is a Saipar ( 4 . 94 . 1 ), but leaves open the question whether he may once have been a man 
(96.2). Strabo's account (7.3.5) strongly suggests that he was either a heroised shaman— all shamans become Uar, heroes, after 
death (Sieroszewski, loc. cit ., 228 f.)— or else a divine prototype of shamans (cf. Nock, CR 40 [1926] 185 f., and Meuli, loc. cit 

., 163). We may compare the status which, according to Aristotle (fr. 192 R. = lamb. vit. Pyth . 31), the Pythagoreans claimed 
for their founder: W Xoyutou fuou rd pip iffri 0t6s r rd 54 ivdpuxot, to 64 olov IIo0ay6poi The fact that Zalmoxis gave his 
name to a particular type of singing and dancing (Hesych. s.v.) seems to confirm his connection with shamanistic performances. 
The similarities between the Zalmoxis legend and those of Epimenides and Aristeas have been rightly emphasised by Professor 
Rhys Carpenter ( Folktale, Fiction, and Saga in the Homeric Epics , Sather Classical Lectures, 1946, 132 f., 161 f.), though I 
cannot accept his ingenious identification of all three with hibernating bears (was Pythagoras a bear too?). Minar, who tries to 
elicit a historical kernel from the Zalmoxis stories, ignores their religious background. 

62 Cf. Delatte, Etudes sur la litt. pyth ., 77 ff. 

63 Pythagoras and Abatis, Iamb. vit. Pyth . 90-93, 140, 147, who makes Abaris P.'s pupil (Suidas, s.v. riu0a'y5paf , reverses 
the relation); initiation, ibid ., 146. Prophecy, bilocation, and identity with Hyperborean Apollo, Aristotle, fr. 191 R. (= Vorsokr ., 
Pyth. A 7). Healing, Aelian, V.H . 4.17, Diog. Laert. 8.12, etc.; visits underworld, Hieronymus of Rhodes apud Diog. 8.21, cf. 41. 
Against the view that the whole Pythagoras-legend can be dismissed as the invention of late romancers see O. Weinreich, NJbb 
1926, 638, and Gigon, Ursprung d. gr. Philosophie , 131; and on the irrational character of much early Pythagorean thinking, L. 
Robin, La Pensee hellenique , 31 ff. I do not, of course, suggest that Pythagoreanism can be explained entirely as a development 
from shamanism; other elements, like number-mysticism and the speculations about cosmic harmony, were also important from 
an early date. 

64 As Reinhardt says, the earliest references to Pythagoras— in Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Ion (and one might add 
Herodotus)— all "presuppose the popular tradition which saw in him an Albertus Magnus" ( Parmenides , 236). Cf. I. Levy, 
Recherches sur les sources de la legende de Pythagore , 6 ff. and 19. 

65 The wind-magic goes back to Timaeus (fr. 94 M. = Diog. L. 8.60); the other stories to Heraclides Ponticus (frs. 72, 75, 76 
Voss = Diog. L. 8.60 f., 67 f.). Bidez, La Biographie d.'Empedocle , 35 ff., argued convincingly that the legend of Empedocles' 
bodily translation is older than that of his death in the crater of Etna, and was not invented by Heraclides. Similarly, Siberian 
tradition tells how the great shamans of the past were translated bodily (Czaplicka, op. cit ., 176), and how they raised the dead 
to life (Nioradze, op. cit ., 102). 

66 Frs. 111.3, 9; 112.4. 

67 Fr. 112.7 ff. Cf. Bidez, op. cit ., 135 ff. 

68 The first of these views was maintained by Bidez, op. cit ., 159 ff., and Kranz, Hermes , 70 (1935) 115 ff.; the second by 
Wilamowitz ( Berl. Sitzb . 1929, 655), after Diels ( Berl. Sitzb . 1898, i.39 ff.) and others. Against both opinions, see W. Nestle, 
Philol 65 (1906) 545 ff., A. Dies, Le Cycle mystique , 87 ff., Weinreich, NJbb 1926, 641, and Cornford, CAH IV. 568 f. The 
attempts of Burner and others to distinguish in a later generation between "scientific" and "religious" Pythagoreans illustrate the 
same tendency to impose modern dichotomies on a world which had not yet felt the need to define either "science" or "religion." 

69 This explanation (Karsten's) was accepted by Burnet and Wilamowitz. But see, contra , Bidez, op. cit ., 166, and Nestle, loc. 




cit 549, n.14. 

70 In view of these passages, Wilamowitz' description of the poem On Nature as "durchaus materialistisch" ( loc. cit ., 651) is 
decidedly misleading, though no doubt Empedocles, like other men of his time, thought of mental forces in material terms. 

71 Jaeger, Theology , 132. 

72 Cf. Rohde, Psyche , 378. On the wide range of the shaman's functions see Chadwick, Growth of Literature , 1.637 ff., and 
Poetry and Prophecy , chaps, i and iii. Homeric society is more advanced : there the povnr r the ^V T P ° 5 , the dwWr , are 
members of distinct professions. The archaic Greek shamans were a throwback to an older type. 

73 Later tradition, with its emphasis on the secrecy of Pythagoras' teaching, denied that he put anything in writing; cf., however, 
Gigon, Unters. z. Heraklit , 126. It would seem that there was no such established tradition in the fifth century, since Ion of 
Chios could attribute Orphic poems to Pythagoras (n. 96 below). 

74 Cf. W. K. C. Guthrie, Orpheus and Greek Religion , chap. iii. 

75 Chadwick, J RAI 66 (1936) 300. Modern shamans have lost this power, but they still surround themselves when they 
shamanise with wooden images of birds and beasts, or with their skins, in order to secure the help of the animal spirits (Meuli, 
loc. cit ., 147); they also imitate the cries of these helpers (Mikhailovski, loc. cit ., 74, 94). The same tradition appears in the 
legend of Pythagoras, who "is believed to have tamed an eagle, by certain cries checking it in its flight overhead and calling it 
down" (Plut. Numa 8); this may be compared with the Yenissean belief that "the eagles are the shaman's helpers" (Nioradze, op. 
cit ., 70). He also tames another animal very important to northern shamans, the bear (lamb. vit. Pyth . 60). 

76 Chadwick, ibid ., 305 (underworld journey of Kan Margan to look for his sister), and Poetry and Prophecy , 93; Mikhailovski, 
loc. cit ., 63, 69 f.; Czaplicka, op. cit ., 260, 269; Meuli, loc. cit ., 149. 

77 Cf. Guthrie, op. cit. , 35 ff. 

78 E.g., the mantic head of Mimir, Ynglinga saga , chaps, iv and vii. In Ireland, "heads that speak havebeen a well-attested 
phenomenon for more than a thousand years" (G. L. Kittredge, A Study of Gawain and the Green Knight , 177, where numerous 
examples are quoted). Cf. also W. Deonna, REG 38 (1925) 44 ff. 

79 Wilamowitz, Glaube , 11.193 ff. (1932); Festugiere, Revue Biblique , 44 (1935) 372 ff.; REG 49 (1936) 306 ff.; H. W. 

Thomas, (1938); Ivan M. Linforth, The Arts of Orpheus (1941). A spirited counter-attack on this "reactionary" 

scepticism was delivered in 1942 by Ziegler, representing the Old Guard of pan-Orphists, in the guise of an article in a work of 
reference (P.-W., s.v. "Orphische Dichtung"). But while he has no difficulty in scoring some direct hits on his immediate 
adversary Thomas, I cannot feel that Ziegler has stilled my doubts about the foundations on which the traditional account of 
"Orphism" rests, even in the modified form in which it is presented by such careful writers as Nilsson ("Early Orphism," Harv. 
Theol. Rev . 28 [1935]) and Guthrie ( op. cit .). 

80 See, contra , Wilamowitz, 11.199. To his generalisation that no writer of the Classical Age speaks of OptfuKol / Herodotus 2.81 

can be claimed as a possible exception only if we adopt the "short text" (the reading of ABC) in that disputed passage. But an 
accidental omission in an ancestor of ABC, caused by homoioteleuton and leading to a subsequent change in the number of the 
verb, appears to me much likelier than an interpolation in DRSV; and I cannot resist the conviction that the choice of the word 
bfryiuv in the next sentence was determined by the word in the "long text" of this one (cf. Nock, Studies Presented 

to F. LI. Griffith , 248, and Boyance, Culte des Muses , 94, n. 1). 

81 See, contra , Bidez, op. cit ., 141 ff. There is in my judgement a stronger case for attaching Empedocles to the Pythagorean 
tradition (Bidez, 122 ff.; Wilamowitz, Berl. Sitzb . 1929, 655; Thomas, 115 ff.) than for connecting him with anything that is 
demonstrably and distinctively early-Orphic (Kern, Kranz, etc.). But it is probably a mistake to regard him as a member of any 
"school": he was an independent shaman who had his own way of putting things. 

82 In Hypsipyle fr. 31 Hunt (= Kern, O.F . 2) the quite common adjective vpurbyoi'Oi has no proved association with the older 
Orphic literature, while 'Epwr and have been imported by conjecture. Nor has Cretans , fr. 472, any demonstrable 
connection with "Orphism" (Festugiere, REG 49.309). 

83 See, contra , Thomas, 43 f. 

84 See, contra , Wilamowitz, 11.202 f.; Festugiere, Rev. Bibl . 44.381 f.; Thomas, 134 ff. 

85 That this hypothesis is both superfluous and intrinsically improbable is the central thesis of Thomas's book. 

86 See, contra , Linforth, 56 ff.; D. W. Lucas, "Hippolytus," CQ 40 (1946) 65 ff. It may be added that the Pythagorean tradition 
explicitly coupled hunters with butchers as unclean persons (Eudoxus, fr. 36 Gisinger = Porph. vit. Pyth . 7). The Orphic view of 
them can hardly have been very different. 

87 This hoary error has in recent years been exposed again and again: see R. Harder, Ueber Ciceros Sornnium Scipionis , 121, 

n. 4; Wilamowitz, 11.199; Thomas, 51 f.; Linforth, 147 f. Since, however, it is still repeated by highly respected scholars, it 
seems worth while to say once more ( a ) that what is attributed by Piato, Crat . 400 C , to ot Optpia. j S a derivation of 

au/xa (roVTO ) from oyfarai (ifr : this is placed beyond doubt by the words 

nal ovolv Mv rap&ytip oi>&' Iv yp&ppa. ( which contrast oupa-atfo) with (rupa-fffjpa and aupa-arjpaivu ■ ( b ) that 
awpa-trijpa. j S attributed in the same passage to , without further specification; ( c ) that when an author says, "Some 
persons connect ffwpa with <7 VP& , but I think it was probably the Orphic poets who coined the word, deriving it from ," we 
cannot suppose "the Orphic poets" to be either identical with, or included among, "some persons" (I am inclined to think this 
remains true even if paXiara. is understood as qualifying w* biKrjvSiboumji kt\ j. 

88 As Mr. D. W. Lucas has put it ( CQ 40.67), "the modern reader, baffled and dismayed by the apparent crudity of much of 
conventional Greek religion, is inclined to look everywhere for signs of Orphism, because he feels it gives more of what he has 
come to expect from religion, and he is loath to believe that the Greeks did not demand it too." Cf. also Jaeger, Theology , 61. I 
cannot help suspecting that "the historic Orphic Church," as it appears, e.g., in Toynbee's Study of History , V.84 ff., will one day 
be quoted as a classic instance of the kind of historical mirage which arises when men unknowingly project their own 
preoccupations into the distant past. 

89 Festugiere, REG 49.307; Linforth, xiii f. 

90 Parallels between Plato or Empedocles and these late compilations do not in my opinion constitute such a guarantee, unless in 
any particular case we can exclude the possibility that the compiler lifted the phrase or the idea from those accepted masters of 
mystical thought. 

92 Rep . 364 E . The etymology and usage of the word ip&Sot suggest that what Plato had in mind was not so much the 
confused noise of gabbling recitation as the confused noise of a lot of books each propounding its own nostrum; it takes more 




than one to make a ApaJor . Euripides' phrase, ’roXXwi ' ypappAruv nairvofe ( Hipp . 954), also stresses the multiplicity of Orphic 
authorities, as well as their futility. It is anachronistic, as Jaeger points out ( Theology , 62), to postulate a uniform Orphic 
"dogma" in the Classical Age. 

93 Plato, Crat . 400 C ; Eur. Hipp . 952 f. (cf. At. Ran . 1032, Plato, Laws 782 C ); Plato, Rep . 364 E -365 A . 

94 Ziegler, loc. cit ., 1380, seems to me to be right on this point, against the ultra-sceptical Thomas. Aristotle's words atde 
anima 410 b 19 (= O.F . 27), far from excluding transmigration from the range of Orphic beliefs, go some way to confirm its 
inclusion by showing that some writers of Op^ud believed at any rate in a preexistent detachable soul. 

95 Pythagoreans are portrayed in Middle Comedy as pretending to be strict vegetarians (Antiphanes, fr. 135. K., Aristophon, fr. 

9, etc.) and even as living on bread and water (Alexis, fr. 221). But the Pythagorean rule had various forms; the oldest may 
have prohibited the eating only of certain "sacred" animals or parts of animals (Nilsson, "Early Orphism," 206 f.; Delatte, Etudes 
sur la litt. pyth ., 289 ff.). The &upa-<j>povp&. idea was put by Clearchus (fr. 38 W.) into the mouth of a real or imaginary 
Pythagorean called Euxitheos. (Plato, Phaedo 62 B , does not in my opinion support the view that it was taught by Philolaus; and 
I have little faith in "Philolaus," fr. 15.) On Pythagorean x&9ap<nt see below, n. 119, and on the close general similarity of 
old-Pythagorean and old-Orphic ideas, E. Frank, Platon u. d. sogenannten Pythagoreer , 67 ff., 356 ff., and Guthrie, op. cit ., 216 
ff. The most clearly recognisable differences are not doctrinal, but are concerned with cult (Apollo is central for Pythagoreanism, 
Dionysus apparently for the 0 /><£ik< 4 ) ; with social status (Pythagoreanism is aristocratic, the Op^ud probably were not); and, 
above all, with the fact that Orphic thought remained on the mythological level, while the Pythagoreans at an early date, if not 
from the first, attempted to translate this way of thinking into more or less rational terms. 

96 Diog. Laert. 8.8 (= Kern, Test . 248); Clem. Alex. Strom . 121, 131 (= Test . 222). I find it difficult to accept Linforth's 
identification of this Epigenes with an obscure member of the Socratic circle ( op. cit ., 115 ff.); the sort of linguistic interests 
attributed to him by Clement ( ibid ., 5.8, 49 = O.F . 33) and Athenaeus (468 C ) strongly suggest Alexandrian scholarship. But 
he was in any case a man who had made a special study of Orphic poetry, and in view of the poverty of our own information it 
seems unwise to dismiss his statements in the cavalier manner of Delatte ( Etudes sur la litt. pyth ., 4 f.). We do not know on 
what his particular ascriptions were based; but for the general view that early Pythagoreans had had a hand in the manufacture 
of Opened he could appeal to good fifth-century authority, not only to Ion of Chios but also, I think, to Herodotus, if I am right in 
understanding the famous sentence in 2.81 to mean "These Egyptian practices agree (bpoXoyttt RSV) with the practices called 
Orphic and Dionysiac, which really originated in Egypt and (some of which) were brought thence by Pythagoras" (on the text see 
n. 80 above). Since Hdt. elsewhere (2.49) attributes the importation of the P a *X t,( A to Melampus, the practices imported by 
Pythagoras are presumably limited to the Opened Cf. 2.123, where he says he knows but will not name the plagiarists who 
imported the doctrine of transmigration from Egypt and claimed it as their own. 

97 Something of the same sort may have happened in India, where the belief in reincarnation also emerges relatively late and 
appears to be neither indigenous nor part of the creed of the I.-E. incomers. W. Ruben, Acta Orientalia , 17 (1939) 164 ff., finds 
its starting-point in contacts with the shamanistic culture of Central Asia. One interesting fact is that in India, as in Greece, the 
reincarnation theory and the interpretation of the dream as a psychic excursion make their first appearance together ( Br. 
Upanishad 3.3 and 4.3; cf. Ruben, loc. cit ., 200). It looks as if they were elements of the same belief-pattern. If so, and if 
shamanism is the source of the latter element, it is probably the source of both. 

98 Rohde, "Orpheus," Kl. Schriften , 11.306. 

99 Eranos , 39 (1941) 12. See, contra , Gigon, Ursprung , 133 f. 

100 Heraclitus, fr. 88 D., cf. Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp . 3.230 (quoted below, n. 109); Plato, Phaedo 70 C -72 D (the "argument 
from Ai'rtnroJpffir "). 

101 "This doctrine of the transmigration or reincarnation of the soul is found among many tribes of savages," Frazer, The Belief 
in Immortality , 1.29. "The belief in some form of reincarnation is universally present in all the simple food-gathering and 
fishing-hunting civilisations," P. Radin, Primitive Religion , 270. 

102 Cf. Plato, Phaedo 69 C , Rep . 363 D , etc., and for the Pythagorean belief in Tartarus, Arist. Anal. Post . 94 b 33 (= Vorsokr 

. 58 C 1). An Underworld J ourney is among the poems ascribed by Epigenes to the Pythagorean Cercops (n. 96). The specific 
fancy of a hell of mud is usually called "Orphic" on the not very impressive authority of Olympiodorus ( in Phaed . 48.20 N.). 
Aristides, orat . 22.10 K. (p. 421 Dind.), attributes it to Eleusis (cf. Diog. L. 6.39). Plato, Rep . 363 D and Phaedo 69 C , is quite 
vague. I suspect it to be an old popular notion derived from the consubstantiality of ghost and corpse and the consequent 
confusion of Hades with the grave: the stages of its growth may be traced in Homer's ti’pdxt'ra ( od . 10.512, cf. 

Soph. Aj . 1166, T&<t>ov fvpwfvra . ); Aeschylus' XajiTa or XAra ( Eum . 387, cf. Blass ad loc .); and Aristophanes' 

j36p0opoi> xoXin> xoi <TKup Ativuv ( Ran . 145.). At some point in its development it was interpreted as the appropriate 
punishment of the uninitiated or "unclean" (tuv Arcaffaprwr ); this might be the contribution of Eleusis or of the 'Opened or of 
both. 

103 To the question, T ‘ A^ytrat ; the old Pythagorean catechism replied, dn xovijpoi o’l ifdpuiroi, (iamb. vit. 

Pyth . 82 = Vorsokr . 45 C 4). 

104 Laws 872 DE. Cf. the Pythagorean view of justice, Arist. E.N . 1132 b 21 ff. 

105 yvuHTti b Avdpwvovi avOaiptra rr/par i\ 0 VTas ; quoted as Pythagorean by Chrysippus apud Aul. Gell. 7.2.12. Cf. Delatte, 
Etudes , 25. 

106 See above, chap. ii. 

107 Against Burnet's ascription of PlatonicAFaM» , *)<7'ir to the Pythagoreans ( Thales to Plato , 43) see L. Robin, "Sur la doctrine de 
la reminiscence," REG 32 (1919) 451 ff. (= La Pensee hellenique , 337 ff.), and Thomas, 78 f. On Pythagorean memory-training, 
Diod. 10.5 and Iamb. vit. Pyth . 164 ff. These authors do not connect it with the attempt to recover memory of past lives, but it 
seems a reasonable guess that this was originally its ultimate purpose. ’Av&pnfnt j n this sense is an exceptional feat, attainable 
only by special gifts or special training; it is a highly esteemed spiritual accomplishment in India today. The belief in it is probably 
assisted by the curious psychological illusion, to which some persons are subject, known as "deja vu." 

108 Iamb. vit. Pyth . 85 (= Vorsokr . 58 C 4). Cf. Crantor apud [Plut.] cons, ad Apoll . 27, 115 B , who attributes to "many wise 
men" the view that human life is a Tipwpia ( anc j Arist. fr. 60, where the same view is ascribed to T As TtX«r as \iyovrtt 
(Orphic poets?). 

109 Heraclitus, frs. 62, 88; cf. Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp_ . 3.230: 8 {£ 

'Hp4kX«t6s <t>r)<riv Art xal to Kdl to airo8avtii> kcu Iv rip 




i )pas tan nai iv tu TtdvAvai 6rt piv yap 17 pm ras ^>vxAi 

i)pu v rtdvavai xai iv ijpiv rtOA^ai, Art 5i yptis AiroOvjjtTKoptv, tA tfwx&i AvaBiovv nai {rjv ( anc ] philo. Leg. alleg . 1.108. 
Sextus' quotation is doubtless not verbatim ; but it seems unsafe to discount it completely, as some do, because of its 
"Pythagorean" language. For the similar view held by Empedocles, see below, n. 114; and for later developments of this line of 
thought, Cumont, Rev. de Phil . 44 (1920) 230 ff. 

110 At. Ran . 420, ^ &vu vtKpoiat / anc j the parody of Euripides, ibid ., 1477 f. (Cf. 1082, j***o0f*t ov {ijv rd , 

where the doctrine is presented as a climax of perversity.) 

111 Pherecydes, A 5 Diels. On the two souls in Empedocles see Gomperz, Greek Thinkers , 1.248 ff. (Eng. trans.); Rostagni, 1 1 
Verbo di Pitagora , chap, vi; Wilamowitz, Berl. Sitzb . 1929, 658 ff.; Delatte, Enthousiasme , 27. Failure to distinguish the 
from the daipuv has led various scholars to discover an imaginary contradiction between the Purifications and the poem On 
Nature in regard to immortality. Apparent contradictions on the same subject in the fragments of Alcmaeon are perhaps to be 
explained in a like manner (Rostagni, loc. cit .). Another view of the persistent "occult" self, attributed by Aristotle to "some 

Pythagoreans" ( de anima 404 2 17), represented it as a tiny material particle (£vffpa ) ; a notion which has plenty of primitive 
parallels. This again is quite distinct from the breath-soul which is the principle of life on the ordinary empirical level. The notion 
of a plurality of "souls" may have been taken over from shamanistic tradition: most of the Siberian peoples today believe in two 
or more souls (Czaplicka, op. cit ., chap. xiii). But, as Nilsson has lately said, "pluralistic teaching about the soul is founded in the 
nature of things, and only our habits of thought make it surprising that man should have several 'souls'" ( Harv. Theol. Rev . 42 
[1949] 89). 

112 Empedocles, A 85 (Aetius, 5.25.4), cf. frs. 9-12. Return of ifrvxti or rvtvpa to the fiery aether: Eur. Supp . 533, fr. 971, and 
the Potidaea epitaph (Kaibel, Epigr. gr . 21). It seems to be based on the simple idea that is breath or warm air 
(Anaximenes, fr. 2), which will tend to float upwards when released at death into the atmosphere (Empedocles, ft. 2.4, 

Kawvolo 51kj jv ApOtvTts \ 

113 A similar paradox is attributed by Clement to Heraclitus, Paedag . 3.2.1. But what is missing in the fragments of Heraclitus is 
the Empedoclean preoccupation with guilt. Like Homer, he is apparently more concerned about rip-fj (fr. 24). 

114 Rohde's view, that the "unfamiliar place" (fr. 118) and the "Meadow of Ate" (fr. 121) are simply the world of men, has the 
support of ancient authority, and seems to me almost certainly right. It was challenged by Maass and Wilamowitz, but is 
accepted by Bignone ( Empedocle , 492), Kranz ( Hermes , 70 [1935] 114, n. 1), and Jaeger ( Theology , 148 f., 238). 

115 The imaginative qualities of the Purifications have been well brought out by Jaeger, Theology , chap, viii, especially 147 f. 
Empedocles was a true poet, not a philosopher who happened to write in verse. 

116 See above, pp. 35 ff. Certain cathartic functions are exercised by the primitive Siberian shaman (Radloff, op. cit ., 11.52 ff.); 
so that the role of Kadaprrjr would come natural to his Greek imitators. 

117 O.F ., 32 (c) and (d). 

118 Rep . 364 E : 9wnuv Kai xauSta? . Empedocles, fr. 143, prescribes washing in water drawn in a bronze vessel 

from five springs— which recalls the "futile prescription" offered by a speaker in Menander (fr. 530.22 K.), 

And Kpovvuv rptuv vdanwtpippAvai ( anc | the catharsis practised by Buryat shamans with water drawn from three springs 
(Mikhailovski, loc. cit ., 87). 

119 Aristoxenus, fr. 26, and Wehrli's note; Iamb. vit. Pyth . 64 f., 110-114, 163 f.; Porph. vit. Pyth . 33; Boyance, Le Culte des 
Muses , 100 ff., 115 ff. Music is much used by modern shamans to summon or banish spirits— it is "the language of spirits" 
(Chadwick, J RAI 66 [1936] 297). And it seems likely that the Pythagorean use of it derives in part at least from shamanistic 
tradition: cf. the tnu:Sai . by which the Thracian followers of Zalmoxis are said to "heal the soul" (Plato, Charm . 156 D -157 A ). 

120 Empedocles, fr. 117. 

121 Ar. Ran . 1032 (cf. Linforth, 70); Eudoxus apud Porph. vit. Pyth . 7. Vegetarianism is associated with Cretan mystery cults 
by Euripides (fr. 472) and by Theophrastus ( apud Porph. de abst . 2.21), and it may well be that the Cretan vegetarian 
Epimenides played a part in its diffusion. But the other form of the Pythagorean rule, which forbade only the eating of certain 
"sacred" creatures, such as the white cock (n. 95 above), may possibly derive from shamanism, since to-day "animals, and 
especially birds, which play some part in shamanistic beliefs may not be killed or even molested" (Holmberg, op. cit ., 500), 
though a general prohibition of flesh-eating is reported only of certain clans among the Buryats ( ibid ., 499). 

122 The "Pythagorean silence" is proverbial from Isocrates (11.29) onwards. Iamblichus speaks of five years' complete silence 
for novices ( vit. Pyth . 68 , 72), but this may be a later exaggeration. Sexual restraint, Aristoxenus, fr. 39 W., Iamb. vit. Pyth . 
132, 209 ff.; sex relations harmful, Diog. Laert. 8.9, Diod. 10.9.3 ff., Plut. Q. Conv . 3.6.3, 654 B . Celibacy is not required of the 
modern Siberian shaman. But it is worth noticing that, according to Posidonius, celibacy was practised by certain holy men 
(shamans?) among the Thracian Getae (Strabo, 7.3-3 f.). 

123 Hippolytus ( Ref. haer . 7.30 = Empedocles B 110) accuses Marcion of emulating the Kaflappoc of Empedocles in trying to 
get rid of marriage: iiaipti yAp 6 yApot Kara ’E pn<6on\{a t 6 tv Kai iroifTiroWAi . This is explained by another statement 
which he attributes to E. ( ibid ., 7.29 = Emp. B 115), that sexual intercourse helps the disruptive work of strife. It is not clear, 
however, whether E. went to the length of preaching race-suicide. 

124 Hippodamas apud Iamb. vit. Pyth . 82. 

125 Paus. 8.37.5 (= Kern, Test . 194). 

126 Wilamowitz, Glaube , 11.193, 378 f. 

127 Notably by Festugiere, Rev. Bibl . 44 (1935) 372 ff. and REG 49 (1936) 308 f. On the other hand the antiquity of the myth 
is maintained— not always on what seem to me the strongest grounds— by Guthrie (107 ff.), Nilsson ("Early Orphism," 202), and 
Boyance ("Remarques sur le salut selon I'Orphisme," REA 43 [1941] 166). The fullest and most careful survey of the evidence is 
Linforth's, op. cit ., chap. v. He inclines on the whole to the earlier dating, though his conclusions are in some other respects 
negative. 

128 For the probable meaning of the attribution to Onomacritus see Wilamowitz, Glaube , 11.379, n. 1; Boyance, Culte des Muses 
, 19 f.; Linforth, 350 ff. I should also be hesitant about building much on the finds in the Theban Kabeirion (Guthrie, 123 ff.), 
which would be more impressive as evidence if there were anything to connect them directly with Titans or with (fna.pa.ypos . 

Nor are we helped by S. Reinach's ingenious discovery ( Rev. Arch . 1919, i.162 ff.) of an allusion to the myth in one of the 
"additional" Aristotelian irpoflXripara (Didot Aristotle, IV. 331. 15), so long as the date of this npofiXrjpa remains uncertain; the 
evidence of Athen. 656 AB is not sufficient to show that the npoflXrjpa was known to Philochorus. 




129 See App. I, pp. 276 ff . ; and on the connection between the rite and the myth, Nilsson, "Early Orphism," 203 f. Those who 
deny, like Wilamowitz, that the older OptfriKa . had any connection with Dionysus have to explain away the evidence of Hdt. 2.81 
(or eliminate it by adopting the transcriptionally less probable reading). 

130 See above, pp. 33 f. 

131 Pindar, fr. 127 B. (133 S.) = Plato, Meno 81 BC . This interpretation was offered by Tannery, Rev. de Phil . 23, 126 f. The 
case for it has been persuasively argued by Rose in Greek Poetry and Life: Essays Presented to Gilbert Murray , 79 ff. (cf. also 
his note in Harv. Theol. Rev . 36 [1943] 247 ff.). 

132 Plato, Laws 701 C . The thought is unfortunately as elliptical as the syntax is crabbed; but all explanations which assume 
that T V V \tyopivTfv iraXatdi' TiTavucr)v <f>Ca iv re fers merely to the war of the Titans and the gods seem to me to suffer 
shipwreck on the phrase W T ® airra wdAw intlva &<jnKopivoirs ( 0 r kifriKOplvoif f Schanz), which makes no known sense as 
applied to Titans, and not much sense (in view of iraXiP ) as applied to men unless the human race sprang from Titans. To 
Linforth's objection ( op. cit ., 344) that Plato is talking only of degenerates, whereas the myth made the Tiramij tfrvait a 
permanent part of ail human nature, the answer surely is that while ail men have the Titan nature in their breasts, only 
degenerates "show it off and emulate it." {Iwt btiKVVai implies that they are proud to have it in them, while Itlitovpivoit means 
that they follow the example of their mythical ancestors.) 

133 Ibid ., 854 B : to a person tormented by impulses to sacrilege we must say: 

<Hi_9aupaait ) ovk kvBpiorivbv at kukov Mi Ouov Kim rk 

vw iri rip itpoaMav vporplirov iivai, olarpot bi at Tit ipitnfbi itvot 

Ik iraXauiH' icai Okproiv tois kvOpwrois kbitcfipaTUv, irtpi<i>tpbptv<ysk\iTr)puobT)t , jhe kbudipara are usually thought to be 
crimes committed by the person's immediate ancestors (so England, etc.), or by the person himself in a previous incarnation 
(Wilamowitz, Platon , 1.697). But ( a ) if the temptation arises in some way from past human acts, why is it called 
ovk avdpuTivov KdKOi' ? ( b ) Why is it specifically a temptation to sacrilege? ( c ) Why are the original acts 
dud^opro rots avdpunot* (words which are naturally taken together, and must in fact be so taken, since they evidently lead up 
to the advice in the next sentence to seek purgation from tile gods )? I cannot resist the conclusion (which I find has been 
reached on other grounds by Rathmann, Quaestt. Pyth ., 67) that Plato is thinking of the Titans, whose incessant irrational 
promptings ( olarpot ) haunt the unhappy man wherever he goes {rtpi^>*p6ptvot ) 7 tempting him to emulate their sacrilege. Cf. 
Plut. de esu earn . 1, 996 C : ri> y^P if &\oyof tai Iltolktov Kal (Kaiov, ob 

Otiov <6v> k\\a baipoviKkv t oi iraXoio* Tiravas uvkpaaav (which seems to come from Xenocrates); and for olarpot 
resulting from man's evil inheritance, Olymp. in Phaed . 87.23 ff. N. (= O.F . 232). 

134 Olymp. in Phaed . 84.22 ff. : I Qpovpk . . . ut 3(MMp&Ttyf , TirawJt^^rtjf *ai At Svvaov dtroxopu^ourat (= Xenocrates, 

fr. 20). Cf. Heinze ad loc. ; E. Frank, Platon u. d. sog. Pythagoreer , 246; and the more cautious views of Linforth, 337 ff. 

135 It must be conceded to Linforth that none of the older writers explicitly equates the divine in man with the Dionysiac. But it 

can, I think, be shown that this equation is not (as Linforth maintains, p. 330) the invention of Olympiodorus ( in Phaed . 3.2 
ff.), or (as might be suggested) of his source Porphyry (cf. Olymp. ibid ., 85.3). ( a ) It appears in Olympiodorus, not merely "as 
a desperate device to explain a puzzling passage in Plato" (Linforth, p. 359), but as an explanation in mythical terms of moral 
conflict and the redemption of man, in Phaed . 87.1 ff. : iv iipiv Aliovvoop 

biaairuptv . . . oorui S’ ixovrtt T travit iaptv Srav bi «is iKtlvoovpfloiptv, Aibvvaoi yivkptda rtrt\tvupivot artxf&t 
When Linforth says (p. 36o) that the connection of these ideas with the Titan myth "is not suggested by Olympiodorus and is 
merely the gratuitous assertion of modern scholars," he seems to have overlooked this passage. ( b ) Iamblichus says of the old 
Pythagoreans, vit. Pyth . 240, ro.pi]yytWov yap dapa aXXijXott prj Siaarav rkv ivlavroit Otov . it has apparently escaped 
notice that he is alluding to the same doctrine as Olympiodorus (the use of the verb biaairav makes this fairly certain). We do 
not know what his source was; but even Iamblichus would hardly represent as an old-Pythagorean p0o\ov something which 
had just been invented by Porphyry. Its real age cannot be exactly determined; but it is a reasonable guess that, like the Titan 
myth itself, Porphyry found it in Xenocrates. If so, Plato will hardly have been ignorant of it. But Plato had a good reason for not 
using this element of the myth: he could identify the irrational impulses with the Titans, but to equate the divine in man with the 
Dionysiac was repugnant to a rationalist philosophy. 

136 Keith, Rel. and Phil, of Veda and Upanishads , 579. 

VI Rationalism And Reaction I n The Classical Age 

1 Gilbert Murray, Greek Studies , 66 f. 

2 Chap, ii, pp. 39 f. 

3 This point is made most forcibly, if with some exaggeration, by Pfister, Religion d. Griechen u. Romer , Bursian's Jahresbericht, 
229 (1930) 219. Cf. chap, ii, pp. 43 f. 

4 See, in particular, the recent book of Wilhelm Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos , the purpose of which is to exhibit "the 
progressive replacement of mythological by rational thinking among the Greeks." 

5 Hecataeus, fr. 1 lacoby; cf. Nestle, op. cit. , 134 ff. Hecataeus rationalised mythological bogies like Cerberus (fr. 27), and 

possibly all the other horrors ofrd iv Albov . That he was personally appears from his advice to his countrymen 

to appropriate to secular uses the treasures of Apollo's oracle at Branchidae (Hdt. 5.36.3). Cf. Momigliano, Atene e Roma , 12 
(1931) 139, and the way in which Diodorus and Plutarch present the similar action of Sulla (Diod. 38/9, fr. 7; Plut. Sulla 12). 

6 Xenophanes, frs. 11 and 12 Diels. 

7 Cic. div . 1.5; Aetius, 5.1.1 (= Xenophanes, A 52). Cf. his naturalistic explanations of the rainbow (fr. 32.) and of St. Elmo's 
fire (A 39), both of which are traditional portents. 

8 Xenophanes, fr. 15 (cf. 14 and 16). 

9 Fr. 23. Cf. Jaeger, Theology , 42. ff. As Murray says ( op. cit ., 69), "That 'or in mind' gives food for thought. It reminds one of 
the mediaeval Arab mystic who said that to call God 'just' was as foolishly anthropomorphic as to say that he had a beard." Cf. 
the God of Fleraclitus, for whom human distinctions of "just" and "unjust" are meaningless, since he perceives everything as just 
(fr. 102. Diels). 

10 Fr. 34. 

11 Cf. Fleraclitus, fr. 28; Alcmaeon, fr. 1; H ipp . vet. med. 1, with Festugiere ad loc. ; Gorgias, Hel . 13; Eur. fr. 795. 

12 See chap, iv, p. 118. 




13 Heraclitus, fr. 5. If fr. 69 is to be trusted, he did not dispense altogether with the concept of xaflapais ■ but he may have 
transposed it, like Plato, to the moral and intellectual plane. 

14 Fr. 14. The antecedent reference to 0a.K\oi and Xtiwu suggests that he had Dionysiac (not "Orphic") mysteries especially in 
mind; but in the form in which it is transmitted, his condemnation appears not to be limited to these. Whether he intended to 
condemn mysteries as such, or only their methods, cannot, I think, be determined with certainty, though it is plain from the 
company in which he puts them that he had little sympathy with pbarai . F r . 15 throws no light on the question, even if we 
could be sure of its meaning: the ^aXXixd were not a pvtrrqpiov . As to the much-discussed equation of Dionysus with Hades in 
that fragment, I take this to be a Heraclitean paradox, not an "Orphic mystery-doctrine," and am inclined to agree with those 
who see in it a condemnation of the ^«XX«4 ( no t an excuse for them (the life of the senses is the death of the soul, cf. frs. 77, 
117, and Diels, Herakleitos , 20). 

15 Fr. 96. Cf. Plato, Phaedo 115 C ; and for the sentiments attacked, chap, v, pp. 136 f. 

16 Fr. 119; cf. chap, ii, p. 42. Fr. 106 similarly attacks the superstition about "lucky" and "unlucky" days. 

17 Ft. 5. On the modern cult of holy icons (statues being forbidden) see B. Schmidt, Volksleben , 49 ff. 

18 Glaube , 11.209. Heraclitus' significance as an Aufklarer is rightly emphasised by Gigon, Untersuchungen zu Heraklit , 131 ff., 
and (despite what seems to me a questionable interpretation of fr. 15) by Nestle, op. cit ., 98 ff. His doctrine has, of course, 
other and no less important aspects, but they do not concern the subject of this book. 

19 Cf. Xenophanes, fr. 8 ; Heraclitus, frs. 1, 57, 104, etc. 

20 The similarity between Eur. fr. 282 and Xenophanes, fr. 2 was noticed by Athenaeus, and seems too close to be accidental; 
cf. also Eur. Her . 134-1346 with Xenophanes A 32 and B 11 and 12. On the other hand, the resemblance of Aesch. Supp . 
100-104 to Xenophanes B 25-26, though interesting, is hardly specific enough to establish that Aeschylus had read or heard the 
Ionian. 

21 Diog. Laert. 2.22. Heraclitus' critique of irrational ritual has in fact echoes in Euripides (Nestle, Euripides , 50, 118); though 
these need not be direct borrowings (Gigon, op. cit ., 141). Euripides is described as a noted collector of books (Athen. 3 A ; cf. 
Eur. fr. 369 on the pleasures of reading, and Ar. Ran . 943). 

22 Eur. fr. 783. 

23 Cf. P. Decharme, Euripide et I'esprit de son theatre , 96 ff.; L. Radermacher, Rh. Mus . 53 (1898) 501 ff. 

24 F. Heinimann, Nomos und Physis (Basel, 1945). For a bibliography of earlier studies see W. C. Greene, Moira , App. 31. 

25 Cf. Hdt. 1.60.3: i-irttcpUh) Ik iraXatWpou rod 0a.p0a.pov Wvtos t6 
'EXXf)Pix 6 »>, idv xai 6 f£iwrtpot' xai twjfliijs ^Xifliov dirijXXaT^^voi' 
fiaXXof. 

26 Plato, Prot . 327 CD . 

27 A measure of the swift decline in confidence is the changed tone of the Sophist known as "Anonymus Iamblichi" ( Vorsokr . 5 
, 89), who shared Protagoras' belief in vdpof and was perhaps his pupil. Writing, we may guess, in the later years of the 
Peloponnesian War, he speaks in the despondent voice of one who has seen the whole social and moral order crumble about his 
head. 

28 On the traditional character of the identification of the "good" with the useful, see Snell, Die Entdeckung des Geistes , 131 ff. 
For Socratic utilitarianism cf. Xen. Mem . 3.9.4, etc. 

29 Cf. chap, i, p. 17. So long as aptrtj was conceived in the positive way as efficiency, "being good at doing things," it was 
naturally thought of as dependent on knowing how to do them. But by the fifth century the masses (to judge from Prot . 352 B 
and Gorg . 49 ID ) were more impressed by the negative aspect of dpfrjj a s control of passion, in which the intellectual factor is 
less obvious. 

30 Plato, Prot . 352 A-E . 

31 Ibid ., 327 E . The comparison is a fifth-century one, and was probably used by the historical Protagoras, since it appears in 
the same context in Euripides, Suppl . 913 ff. In general, I incline to think with Taylor, Wilamowitz, and Nestle that Protagoras' 
discourse (32 OC -328 D ) can be taken as a broadly faithful reproduction of views which Protagoras actually held, though 
certainly not as an excerpt or precis from one of his works. 

32 Cf. R. Hackforth, "Hedonism in Plato's Protagoras," . CQ 22 (1928) 39 ff., whose arguments seem very hard to answer. 

33 Prot . 319 A -32 OC . This is often said to be "merely ironical," in order to eliminate the difference between the sceptical 
Socrates of this dialogue and the Socrates of the Gorgias who has discovered what true statesmanship is. But to take it so is to 
destroy the point of the paradox with which the dialogue ends (36 IA ). Plato must have felt that there was in his master's 
teaching on this matter a real inconsistency, or at any rate obscurity, which needed clearing up. In the Gorgias he cleared it up, 
but in doing so stepped beyond the position of the historical Socrates. 

34 The reciprocal implication of the virtues is among the few positive doctrines which we can attribute with confidence to the 
historical Socrates (cf. Prot . 329 D ff., Laches, Charmides , Xen. Mem . 3.9.4 f., etc.). 

35 Cf. Festugiere, Contemplation et vie contemplative chez Platon , 68 f.; laeger, Paideia , 11.65 ff. 

36 Plato, Apol . 33 C : c A°i toEto, ws iyiii 4>VP l , irpooWraxTai inr6 roifftov t p&TTtiv xai pavTt'uvv xai ivvtrv'uvv . For 
dreams cf. also Crito 44 A , Phaedo 60 E ; for oracles, Apol. 21 B , Xen. Mem . 1.4.15 (where Socrates believes in riparOL too), 
Anab . 3.1.5. But Socrates also warned his hearers against treating pa.vriKr l as a substitute for "counting and measuring and 
weighing" (Xen. Mem . 1.1.9); it was a supplement and (as in the case of Chaerephon's oracle) a stimulus to rational thought, 
not a surrogate for it. 

37 Xen. Apol. 12, po* <puvi) c£aix<rai . C f. Mem . 4.8.6; Plato (?), Ale . I, 124 C . 

38 Plato, Prot. 352 BC . 

39 Ibid ., 353 A . 

40 Ibid ., 356 C -357 E . 

41 Aristotle, E.N. 11 47 a 11 ff. 

42 Chap, i, pp. 5 ff.; chap, ii, pp. 38 ff. 

43 Combarieu, La Musique et la magie (Etudes de philologie musicale, III [Paris, 1909]), 66 f., quoted by Boyance, Culte des 




Muses , 108). Plato speaks of animals in the grip of sexual desire as ywovvr a ( Symp . 207 A ); and of hunger, thirst, and 
sexual passion as role Tplayoarffiara. ( Laws 782 E -783 A ). 

44 Eur. Med. 1333; Hipp . 141 ff., 240. M. Andre Rivier, in his interesting and original Essai sur le tragique d'Euripide (Lausanne, 
1944), thinks that we are meant to take these opinions seriously: Medea is literally possessed by a devil (p. 59), and a 
supernatural hand is pouring a poison into Phaedra's soul. But I find this hard to accept, anyhow as regards Medea. She, who 
sees deeper into things than the conventional-minded Jason, uses none of this religious language (contrast Aeschylus' 
Clytemnestra, Agam. 1433, 1475 ff., 1497 ff.). And Phaedra too, when once she has brought herself to face her situation, 
analyses it m purely human terms (on the significance of Aphrodite see "Euripides the Irrationalist," CR 43 [1929] 102). Decisive 
for the poet's attitude is the Troades , where Helen blames her misconduct on a divine agency (940 f., 948 ff.) only to be 
crushed by Hecuba's retort, rt iftafieif jroi«i0«m rd ffdv xatcdv Koapovaa, ov irtifffl* a<xpov? (981 f ) . 

45 Med . 1056 ff. Cf. Heraclitus, fr. 85: paxtoBai xaXixAi- 6 -yapav WX 17 , uvtlrai 

46 I bid ., 1078-1080. Wilamowitz deleted 1080, which from the standpoint of a modern producer injures the effectiveness of the 
"curtain." But it is in keeping with Euripides' habit of mind that he should make Medea generalise her self-analysis, as Phaedra 
does hers. My case, she implies, is not unique: there is civil war in every human heart. And in fact these lines became a standard 
textbook example of inner conflict (see below, chap, viii, n. 16). 

47 Wilamowitz, Einleitung i. d. gr. Tragoedie, . 25, n. 44; Decharme, Euripide et I'esprit de son theatre , 46 f.; and especially 
Snell, Philologus , 97 (1948) 125 ff. I feel much more doubt about the assumption of Wilamowitz ( loc. cit. ) and others that Prot 
. 352 B ff. is Plato's (or Socrates') "reply" to Phaedra. Why should Plato think it necessary to reply to the incidental remarks of a 
character in a play written more than thirty years earlier? And if he did, or if he knew that Socrates had done so, why should he 
not cite Euripides by name as he does elsewhere (Phaedra cannot quote Socrates by name, but Socrates can quote Phaedra)? I 
see no difficulty in supposing that "the many" at Prot . 352 B are just the many: the common man has never ignored the power 
of passion, in Greece or elsewhere, and in this place he is credited with no subtleties. 

48 Hipp . 375 ff. 

49 For an attempt to relate the passage as a whole to the dramatic situation and Phaedra's psychology, see CR 39 (1925) 102 ff. 
But cf. Snell, Philologus, loc. cit ., 127 ff., with whom I am now inclined to agree. 

50 Cf. frs. 572, 840, 841, and Pasiphae's speech in her own defence ( Berl. Kl. Texte , 11.73 = Page, Gk. Lit. Papyri , 1.74). In 
the two last the traditional religious language is used. 

51 Cf. W. Schadewaldt, Monolog u. Selbstgesprach , 250 ff. : the "tragedy of endurance" replaces the" tragedy of iraBos ." I 
should suppose, however, that the Chrysippus , though a late play (produced along with the Phoenissae ), was a tragedy of 

Jr d(?or : it became, like the Medea , a stock example of the conflict between reason and passion (see Nauck on fr. 841), and it 
clearly reemphasised the point about human irrationality. 

52 Rivier, op. cit ., 96 f. Cf. my edition of the play, pp. xl ff. 

53 CR 43 (1929) 97 ff. 

54 Ar. Nub . 1078. 

55 Quoted by Menander, Epitrep . 765 f. Koerte, from the Auge (part of it was previously known, fr. 920 Nauck). 

56 Chrysippus , fr. 840. 

57 Aeolus , fr. 19, Tl “I c\pov ijv pi) rotai xputiivoii ioicfi ■ The Sophist Hippias argued that the incest prohibition was 

conventional, not "divinely implanted" or instinctive, since it was not universally observed (Xen. Mem . 4.4.20). But Euripides' 
line understandably created a scandal: it showed where unlimited ethical relativism landed you. Cf. Aristophanes' parody ( Ran . 
1475); the courtesan's use of it against its author (Machon apud Athen. 582 CD ); and the later stories which make Antisthenes 
or Plato reply to it (Plut. aud. poet. 12, 33 C , Serenus apud Stob. 3.5.36 H.). 

58 Her . 778, Or . 823, Ba . 890 ff., I.A . 1089 ff. Cf. Murray, Euripides and His Age , 194, and Stier, "Nomos Basileus," Philol . 

83 (1928) 251. 

59 So Murray, Aristophanes , 94ff., and more recently Wolfgang Schmid, Philol . 97 (1948) 224ff. I feel less sure about it than 
they do. 

60 Lysias, fr. 73 Th. (53 Scheibe), apud Athen. 551 E . 

61 Best known as a favourite butt of Aristophanes ( Aves 1372-1409 and elsewhere). He was accused of insulting a shrine of 
Hecate ( S Ar. Ran . 366), which would be exactly in keeping with the spirit of the club, the'&idrata being foci of popular 
superstition (cf. Nilsson, Gesch . 1.685 f.). Plato cites him as a typical example of the kind of poet who plays to the gallery 
instead of trying to make his audience better men ( Gorg . 501 E ). 

62 This is the date indicated for the decree of Diopeithes by Diod. 12.38 f. and Plut. Per . 32. Adcock, CAH V.478, is inclined to 
put it in 430 and connect it with "the emotions evoked by the plague, the visible sign of the anger of heaven"; that may well be 
right. 

53 raOtia pff voptfup ( (p| u t. Per . 32). On the meaning of this expression see R. Hackforth, Composition of Plato's Apology , 

60 ff., and J. Tate, CR 50 (1936) 3 ff., 51 (1937) 3 ff. j n the sense of sacrilege had no doubt always been an offence; 

what was new was the prohibition of neglect of cult or antireligious teaching. Nilsson, who clings to the old pretence that 
"freedom of thought and expression was absolute in Athens" ( Greek Piety , 79), tries to restrict the scope of the prosecutions to 
offences against cult. But the tradition unanimously represents the prosecutions of Anaxagoras and Protagoras as based on their 
theoretical views; not their actions. And a society which forbade the one to describe the sun as a material object and the other to 
express uncertainty about the existence of gods surely did not allow "absolute freedom of thought." 

64 X 67 W! ir (pi tuv pnapaiu v M&<tkhp (Plut. ibid. ). This was doubtless aimed especially at Anaxagoras, but the disapproval 
of ptTtupoXtryia. wa s widespread. It was thought to be not only foolish and presumptuous (Gorg. Hel . 13, Hipp. vet. med . 1, 
Plato, Rep . 488 E , etc.), but also dangerous to religion (Eur. fr. 913, Plato, Avol . 19 B , Plut. Nicias 23), and was in the popular 
mind associated especially with Sophists (Eupolis, fr. 146, Ar. Nub . 360, Plato, Pol . 299 B ). Cf. W. Capelle, Philol . 71 (1912) 
414 ff. 

65 Taylor's dating of the trial of Anaxagoras to 450 ( CQ 11 [1917] 81 ff.) would make the Enlightenment at Athens and the 
reaction against it start much earlier than the rest of the evidence suggests. His arguments seem to me to have been disposed 
of by E. Derenne, Les Proces d'impiete , 30 ff., and J. S. Morrison, CR 35 (1941) 5, n. 2. 

66 Burnet ( Thales to Plato , 112), and others after him, dismiss the widely attested tradition of Protagoras' trial as unhistorical 
because of Plato, Meno 91 E . But Plato is speaking there of Protagoras' international reputation as a teacher , which would not 
be diminished by an Athenian heresy-hunt; he was not accused of corrupting the young, but of atheism. The trial cannot have 




taken place so late as 411, but the tradition does not say that it did (cf. Derenne, op. cit 51 ff.). 

67 Satyros, vit. Eur . fr. 39, col. x (Arnim, Suppl. Eur . 6). Cf. Bury, CAH V.383 f. 

68 It is rash to assume that there were no prosecutions but those we happen to have heard of. Scholars have hardly paid 
enough attention to what Plato makes Protagoras say ( Prot . 316 C -317 B ) about the risks attendant on the Sophists' trade, 
which exposes them to "great jealousy, and other forms of ill-will and conspiracy, so that most of them find it necessary to work 
under cover." He himself has his private safeguards (the friendship of Pericles?) which have so far kept him from harm. 

69 Diog. Laert. 9.52, Cic. nat. deor . 1.63, etc. For the dangers of the reading habit cf. Aristophanes, fr. 490: 
rovrov t6v iivbp’ fj fivli\tovbii<i>8op(v rj IT poiuos fj run iboXtayuv (Is yi nf . 

70 This may well be an accident of our defective information. If it is not, it seems to contradict the claim which Plato puts into 

Socrates' mouth ( Gorg . 46 IE ), that Athens allows greater freedom of speech than any other place in Greece (the dramatic 
date of this is after the decree of Diopeithes). It is worth noticing, however, that Lampsacus honoured Anaxagoras with a public 
funeral after Athens had cast him out (Alcidamas apud Ar. Rhet . 1398 b 15). 

71 Nilsson, Greek Popular Religion , 133 ff. 

72 Plut. Pericles 6. 

73 Plato, Apol . 40 A : *1 (iodfoii pov pavnnri r) rov Saipoviov . 

74 Xen. Apol . 14: oi 6uca<r ral idopvffovv, o'l piv airurroums rois 

\tyopivo<s, oi xat <t>$ovovvTts , «l na't irapA Star pufivaiv fj airr olrvyxivoi . Despite Taylor's ingenious arguments to the 
contrary ( Varia Socratica , 10 ff.), I think it impossible to separate the charge of introducing xaivi daipovta from the Saipdviov 
with which both Plato and Xenophon connect it. Cf. A. S. Ferguson, CQ 7 (1913) 157 ff.; H. Gomperz, NJbb 1924, 141 ff.; R. 
Hack-forth, Composition of Plato's Apology , 68 ff. 

75 Cf. Thuc. 5.103.2, when things are going badly the masses ^jri raid^cu'tlr ({^iriSas ) 

KaKtrravrai, pavTiirf)v r« <cal XPV^Poin . Contrast Plato, Euthyphro 3c: brav r i \iyoi iv rfj lKK\r)tri</. irtpi toiv 
S tU ov, trpdktyw avrols ri pfWovra, Kar ay (kaxnv on paivopivov 

76 R. Crawshay-Williams, The Comforts of Unreason, 28. 

77 Hesiod, Erga 240; cf. Plato, Laws 91 OB , and chap, ii, n. 43. Lysias' attitude is illuminating. "Our ancestors," he says, "by 
performing the prescribed sacrifices left us a city the greatest and most prosperous in Greece: surely we ought to offer the same 
sacrifices as they did, if only for the sake of the fortune which has resulted from those rites" (30.18). This pragmatist view of 
religion must have been pretty common. 

78 Thuc. 6.27 f., 60. Thucydides naturally stresses the political aspects of the affair, and indeed it is impossible to read 6.60 

without being reminded of the political "purges" and "witch-hunts" of our own time. But the root cause of the popular excitement 
was bturibaipovia ■ the act was an oltWs TW (6.27.3). 

79 Thuc. 3.82.4. 

80 Nigel Balchin, Lord, I was afraid , 295. 

81 Gilbert Murray, Greek Studies , 67. Cf. Frazer's judgement that "society has been built and cemented to a great extent on a 
foundation of religion, and it is impossible to loosen the cement and shake the foundation without endangering the 
superstructure" ( The Belief in Immortality , 1.4). That there is a real causal connection between the breakdown of a religious 
tradition and the unrestricted growth of power politics seems to be confirmed by the experience of other ancient cultures, 
notably the Chinese, where the secularist positivism of the Fa Hia school had its practical counterpart in the ruthless militarism of 
the Ts'in Empire. 

82 Chap, iv, pp. Ill ff. 

83 So Kern, Rel. der Griechen , 11.312, and W. S. Ferguson, "The Attic Orgeones," Harv. Theol. Rev . 37 (1944) 89, n. 26. It was 
for a like reason that the Asclepius cult was brought to Rome in 293 B.C. It was in fact, in Nock's words, "a religion of 
emergencies" ( CPh 45 [1950] 48). The first extant reference to incubation in an Asclepius temple occurs in the Wasps , written 
within a few years of the cessation of the plague. 

84 Thuc. 2.53.4: Kpimvrtt iv ipolo) teal aifltiv nai pr\, in rod wivrasdpav iv taoi iv oWvpivous . 

85 IG II. 2, 4960. On the details see Ferguson, loc. cit ., 88 ff. 

86 Glaube , 11.233. The most probable interpretation of the evidence seems to be that Asclepius appeared in a dream or vision 
(Plutarch, non posse suaviter 22, 1103 B ) and said, "Fetch me from Epidaurus," whereupon they fetched him 

bp&Kovri (inaapivov ' just as the Sicyonians did on the occasion described by Pausanias (2. 10.3; cf. 3.23.7). 

87 E.g., de vetere medicina , which Festugiere dates ca . 440-420; de aeribus, aquis, locis (thought by Wilamowitz and others to 
be earlier than 430); de morbo sacro (probably somewhat later, cf. Heinimann, Nomos u. Physis , 170 ff.). Similarly, the 
appearance of the first known "dreambooks" (chap, iv, p. 119) is contemporary with the first attempts to explain dreams on 
naturalistic lines: here too there is polarisation. 

88 The Second Punic War was to produce very similar effects at Rome (cf. Livy, 25.1,, and 1. J. Tierney, Proc. R.l .A . 51 [1947] 
94). 

89 Harv. Theol. Rev , 33 (1940) 171 ff. Since then, see Nilsson, Gesch . 1.782 ff., and the important article of Ferguson (above, 
n. 83), which throws much light on the naturalisation of Thracian and Phrygian cults at Athens and their diffusion among 
Athenian citizens. The establishment of the public cult of Bendis can now be dated, as Ferguson has elsewhere shown ( Hesperia 
, Suppl. 8 [1949] 131 ff.), to the plague year, 430-429 

90 Over 300 examples were collected and studied by A. Audollent, Defixionum tabellae (1904), and others have been found 
since. A supplementary list from central and northern Europe is given by Preisendanz, Arch. f. Rel . 11 (1933). 

91 Lawson, Mod. Greek Folklore, 16 ff. 

92 See Globus , 79 (1901) 109 ff. Audollent, op. cit ., exxv f., also quotes a number of instances, including the case of "a 
wealthy and cultivated gentleman" in Normandy who, when his offer of marriage was rejected, ran a needle through the 
forehead of a photograph of the lady and added the inscription, "God curse you!" This anecdote indicates the simple 
psychological roots of this kind of magic. Guthrie has cited an interesting example from nineteenth-century Wales (The Greeks 
and Their Gods , 273). 

93 The Attic examples known before 1897 (over 200 in number) were separately edited by R. Wiinsch, IG III. 3, Appendix. 
Additional Attic defixiones have since been published by Ziebarth, Gott. Nachr . 1899, 105 ff., and Berl. Sitzb . 1934, 1022. ff., 




and others have been found in the Kerameikos (W. Peek, Kerameikos , III. 89 ff.) and the Agora. Among all these there seem to 
be only two examples (Kerameikos 3 and 6) which can be assigned with confidence to the fifth century or earlier; on the other 
hand, a good many are shown by persons named to belong to the fourth, and there are many in which the spelling and style of 
the lettering suggest that period (R. Wilhelm, Ost. Jahreshefte , 7 [1904] 105 ff.). 

94 Wunsch, no. 24; Ziebarth, Gott. Nachr . 1899, no. 2, Berl. Sitzb . 1934, no. 1 B. 

95 Plato, Laws 933 A-E . He refers to nardStapoi also at Rep . 364 C as performed for their clients by dyuprai nal /s&rrdf r 
and at Laws 909 B to necromancy as practised by similar people. The witch Theoris (n. 98 below) claimed some kind of religious 
status: Harpocration s.v. calls her a pdvnt ( p| u tarch, Dem . 14, a Mp* ift . There was thus no sharp line separating superstition 
from "religion." And in fact the gods invoked in the older Attic KaraSiotu are the chthonic deities of ordinary Greek belief, most 
often Hermes and Persephone. It is noteworthy, however, that the meaningless formulae ( Ify&Tia. ypippara. ) characteristic of 
later magic were already coming into use, as appears from Anaxilas, fr. 18 Kock, and with more certainty from Menander, fr. 

371. 

96 Laws 933 B : K1 1PI V & pip^para irtwAaffp&'a, dr’ iirl 9vpa.it dr’lirl rpvbboit dr’ firi pvijpaai yoviuu . s 0 far as I 
know, the earliest extant reference to this technique is in an inscription of the early fourth century from Cyrene, where nrjpiva. 
are said to have been publicly used as part of the sanction of an oath taken at the time of Cyrene's foundation (Nock, Arch. f. Rel 
. 24 [1926] 172). The wax images have naturally perished; but figurines in more durable materials with the hands bound behind 
the back (a literal nardSiait ), or with other marks of magical attack, have been found fairly often, at least two of them in 
Attica: see Ch. Dugas's list, Bull. Corr. Hell . 39 (1915) 413. 

97 Laws 933 A : oCk Kai irtpl roiavra oi/piravra ovrt Strut 

rorl irbpvKtv yiyvwonfiv oSr’ d nt yvolrj, irfidtiv fiirfrit iripovt . The second part of this sentence perhaps hints at a 
greater degree of scepticism than he chooses to express, since the tone of Rep . 364 C (as well as Laws 909 B ) is definitely 
sceptical. 

98 [Dem.] 25.79 f., the case of a tiappamt from Lemnos named Theoris, who was put to death at Athens "with her entire 
family" on the information of her maidservant. That this 4>appaKit was not merely a poisoner appears from the reference in the 
same sentence to her <t>dppaica nai Iwu&at ( an d c f Ar. Nub . 749 ff.). According to Philochorus, apud Harpocration, s.v. Otuplf ; 
the formal charge was one of daijitia. ( and this is probably right: the savage destruction of the whole family implies a pollution 
of the community. Plutarch (who gives a different account of the charge) says, Dem . 14, that the accuser was 
Demosthenes— who was himself, as we have seen, more than once the object of magical attack. 

99 Mythology apart, there are surprisingly few direct references in Attic fifth-century literature to aggressive magic, other than 
love-philtres (Eur. Hipp . 509 ff., Antiphon, 1.9, etc.) and the itri^6t}'Op^>iwt ; Eur. Cycl . 646. The author of morb. sacr . speaks 
of persons allegedly trt^appaKtvpivovt ; "placed under a spell" (VI. 362 L.), and the same thing may be meant at Ar. Thesm . 
534. Other-wise the nearest approach is perhaps to be seen in the word AfaXGfflf , an "undoer" of spells, said to have been 
used by the early comic poet Magnes (fr. 4). Protective or "white" magic was no doubt common: e.g., people wore magic rings 
as amulets (Eupolis, fr. 87, At. Plut . 883 f. and S ). But if you wanted a really potent witch you had to buy one from Thessaly 
(Ar. Nub . 749 ff.). 

100. There was a comparable gap in the nineteenth century between the breakdown of the belief in Christianity among 
intellectuals and the rise of spiritualism and similar movements in the semi-educated classes (from which some of them have 
spread to a section of the educated). But in the case of Athens one cannot exclude the possibility that the revival of aggressive 
magic dated from the despairing last years of the Peloponnesian War. For other possible reasons which may have contributed to 
its popularity in the fourth century see Nilsson, Gesch . 1.759 f. I cannot think that the multiplication of "defixiones" at this time 
reflects merely an increase in literacy, as has been suggested; for they could be written, and probably often were written 
(Audollent, op. cit ., xlv), by professional magicians employed for the purpose (Plato speaks as if this were so, Rep . 364 C ). 

VI I Plato, The I rrational Soul, And The I nherited Conglomerate 

1 "Plato and the Irrational," J HS 65 (1945) 16 ff. This paper was written before the present book was planned; it leaves 
untouched some of the problems with which I am here concerned, and on the other hand deals with some aspects of Plato's 
rationalism and irrationalism which fall outside the scope of the present volume. 

2 Plato was born in the year of Pericles' death or the year following, and died in 347, a year before the Peace of Philocrates and 
nine years before the battle of Chaeronea. 

3 Cf. chap, vi, nn. 31-33. 

4 Xen. Mem . 4.3.14; Plato, Apol . 30 AB , Laches 185 E . 

5 Gorgias 493 A - C . Frank's view of what is implied in this passage ( Platon u. die son. Pythagoreer , 291 ff.) seems to me right 
in the main, though I should question certain details. Plato distinguishes, as 493 B 7 shows, ( a ) 

Tit pv0ai\oyuv nop^St avijp, lout Zi utkbt ntij IraXu&r , whom I take to be the anonymous author of an old Underworld 
Journey (not necessarily "Orphic") which was current in West Greece and may have been somewhat after the style of the poem 
quoted on the gold plates; ( b ) Socrates' informant, TUV (rrx^Uf , who read into the old poem an allegorical meaning (much 
as Theagenes of Rhegium had allegorised Homer). This oofot i suppose to be s Pythagorean, since such formulae are regularly 
used by Plato when he has to put Pythagorean ideas into Socrates' mouth: 507 E , & ol trrx^o; that there is a moral 

world-order (cf. Thompson ad loc .); Meno 81 A , Aicqicoa d vipuv Tt»cai ywaiKUV awbuv about transmigration; Rep . 583 B , 
5oku potruv trotfiuv nvot di irfuoivai that physical pleasures are illusory (cf. Adam ad loc .). Moreover, the view that 
underworld myths are an allegory of this life appears in Empedocles (cf. chap, v, n. 114), and in later Pythagoreanism (Macrob. 
in Somn. Scip . 1.10.7-17). I cannot agree with Linforth ("Soul and Sieve in Plato's Gorgias ," Univ. Calif. Publ. Class. Philol . 12 
[1944] 17 ff.) that "the whole of what Socrates professes to have heard from someone else ... was original with Plato himself": if 
it were, he would hardly make Socrates describe it as e'iriti»cuf vtrS Tl aroira (493 C ) or call it the product of a certain school ( 
yvpvaaiov : 4g3 D y 

6 Phaedo 67 C , cf. 80 E ; 83 A - C . For the meaning of Xo'Ytw ("religious doctrine") cf. 63 C , 70 C Epist . vii. 335 A , etc. In 
thus reinterpreting the old tradition about the importance of dissociated states, Plato was no doubt influenced by Socrates' 
practice of prolonged mental withdrawal, as described in the Symposium , 174 D -175 C and 220 CD , and (it would seem) 
parodied in the Clouds : cf. Festugiere, Contemplation et vie contemplative chez Platon , 69 ff. 

7 See chap, v, n. 107. 




8 Proclus, in Remp . 11.113.22, quotes as precedents Aristeas, Hermotimus (so Rohde for Herodotus), and Epimenides. 

9 As the Siberian shaman becomes an Uor after death (Sieroszewski, Rev. de I'hist. des rel . 46 [1902] 228 f.), so the men of 
Plato's "golden breed" will receive post-mortem cult not merely as heroes —which would have been within the range of 
contemporary usage —but (subject to Delphic approval) as® a ‘M 0 *’* 1 ( Rep . 468 E -469 B ). Indeed; such men may already be 
called ialpovts j n their lifetime ( Crat . 398 C ). In both passages Plato appeals to the precedent of Hesiod's "golden race" ( Erga 
122 f.). But he is almost certainly influenced also by something less remotely mythical, the Pythagorean tradition which accorded 
a special status to the tfttos or bmpbvim ai'tjp ( see above, chap, v, n. 61). The Pythagoreans— like Siberian shamans today— had 
a special funeral ritual of their own, which secured for them a fiO*ttpuTTW Kai oUtiov Tt'Xo? (Plus. gen. Socr . 16, 585 E , cf. 
Boyance, Culte des Muses , 133 ff . ; Nioradze, Schamanismus , 103 f.), and may well have provided the model for the elaborate 
and unusual regulations laid down in the Laws for the funerals of evfa'POi (947 B - E , cf. O. Reverdin, La Religion de la cite 
platonicienne , 125 ff.). On the disputed question whether Plato himself received divine (or daemonic) honours after death, see 
Wilamowitz, Aristoteles u. Athen , 11.413 ff.; Boyance, op. cit ., 250 ff.; Reverdin, op. cit ., 139 ff.; and contra , Jaeger, Aristotle 

, 108 f.; Festugiere, Le Dieu cosmique , 219 f. 

10 Rep . 428 E 429 A , cf. Phaedo 69 C . 

11 Phaedo 82 AB , Rep . 500 D , and the passages quoted below from Philebus and Laws . 

12 Politicus 297 DE , 301 DE ; cf. Laws 739 DE . 

13 Philebus 2 1 DE . 

14 Rep . 486 A .. 

15 Laws 663 B ; cf. 733 A . 

16 Ibid ., 663 D . 

17 Ibid ., 653 B : 6p0 US tWicdai M TUV TpOOTIKbvTUV iduv . 

18 Ibid ., 664 A . 

19 Apol . 38 A . Professor Hackforth, CR 59 (1945) 1 ff., has sought to convince us that Plato remained loyal to this maxim 
throughout his life. But though he certainly paid lip service to it as late as the Sophist (230 C - E .), I see no escape from the 
conclusion that the educational policy of the Republic , and still more clearly that of the Laws , is in reality based on very 
different assumptions. Plato could never confess to himself that he had abandoned any Socratic principle; but that did not 
prevent him from doing it. Socrates' dfpairtia ^VXVf surely implies respect for the human mind as such; the techniques of 
suggestion and other controls recommended in the Laws seem to me to imply just the opposite. 

20 In the Laws , and its cognates are continually used in this metaphorical sense (659 E , 664 B , 665 C , 666 C , 670 E , 

773 D , 812 C , 903 B , 944 B ). Cf. Callicles' contemptuous use of the word, Gorg . 484 A . Its application in the Charmides 
(157 A - C ) is significantly different: there the "incantation" turns out to be a Socratic cross-examination. But in the Phaedo , 
where the myth is an (114 D , cf. 77 E -78 A ), we already have a suggestion of the part which * 7rc p8ai were to play in the 

Laws . Cf. Boyance's interesting discussion, Culte des Muses , 155 ff. 

21 Tim . 86 DE , Laws 731 C , 860 D . 

22 See above, chap, vi, p. 185. 

23 Phaedo 67 A : Kadapol airaXXa Trbptvoi rijs roC auparcK a<t>pc<rvvr]t . cf. 66 C : t 6 ffupa al roOrov bri ffvpiai , 94 E 

: ay«jQa i viro tuvtov auparor ira9rjpaTuv f crat . 414 A : KaOapa ravruv tuv Tfpirb aupa kc ikuv Kai firtflvjuiwv . i n the 

Phaedo , as Festugiere has lately put it, "le corps, c'est le mal, et c'est tout le mal" ( Rev. de Phil . 22 [1948] 101). Plato's 
teaching here is the main historical link between the Greek "shamanistic" tradition and Gnosticism. 

24 For a fuller account of the unitary and the tripartite soul in Plato see G. M. A. Grube, Plato's Thought , 129-149, where the 
importance of the concept of <rr&<ns , "one of the most startlingly modern things in Platonic philosophy," is rightly stressed. 

Apart from the reason given in the text, the extension of the notion of V 1 ' > V to embrace the whole of human activity is doubtless 
connected with Plato's later view that is the source of all motion, bad as wall as good (cf. Tim . 89 E : 

rpla rpixfj & '}/*** ri&TlKaTyKKrra i, riryx^*'* 1 W IKMTOP kivtktus lx otl , Laws 896 D : ri to 

rt ayaduv airiav elvai ^vx^v * a * K &m Q » ). On the ascription in the Laws (896 E ) of an irrational, and potentially evil, 

secondary soul to the t-bapor see Wilamowitz, Platon , 11.315 ff., and the very fill and fair discussion of this passage by Simone 
Petrement, Le Dualisme chez Platon, les Gnostiques et les Manicheens (1947), 64 ff. I have stated my own view briefly inJHS 65 
(1945) 21. 

25 Phaedo 94 DE ; Rep . 441 IBC . 

26 Rep . 485 D : Stffvtp ptvpa Ituot b.iruxtTivpli'Oi ■ . Grube, loc. cit ., has called attention to the significance of this passage, 
and others in the Republic , as implying that "the aim is not repression but sublimation." But Plato's presuppositions are, of 
course, very different from Freud's, as Cornford has pointed out in his fine essay on the Platonic Eros ( The Unwitten Philosophy , 
78 f). 

27 Rep . 439 E . Cf. 351 E -35 A , 554 D , 486 E , 603 D . 

28 Soph . 227 D -228 E . Cf. also Phdr. 2 37 D -238 E and Laws 863 A -864 B . 

29 K twos Jia^flopas 5i a<bopb.v (so Burnet, from the indirect tradition in Galen). 

30 The first hints of an approach to this view may be detected in the Gorgias (482 BC , 493 A ). But I cannot believe that 

Socrates, or Plato, took it over from the Pythagoreans ready-made, as Burner and Taylor supposed. The unitary soul of the 
Phaedo comes (with a changed significance) from Pythagorean tradition; the evidence that the tripartite one does is late and 
weak. Cf. Jaeger, Nemesios von Emesa , 63 ff.; Field, Plato and His Contemporaries , 183 f.; Grube, op. cit ., 133. Plato's 
recognition of an irrational element in the soul was seen in the Peripatetic School to mark an important advance beyond the 

intellectualism of Socrates ( Magna Moralia 1.1, 1182 a 15 ff.); and his views on the training of the irrational soul, which will 

respond only to an irrational Wiffl , were later invoked by Posidonius in his polemic against the intellectualist Chrysippus 
(Galen, de placitis Hippocratis et Platonis , pp. 466 f. Kuhn, cf. 424 f.). See below, chap, viii, p. 239. 

31 Tim . 90 A . Cf. Crat . 398 C . Plato does not explain the implications of the term; on its probable meaning for him see L. 
Robin, La Theorize platonicienne de I'amour , 145 ff., and V. Goldschmidt, La Religion de Platon , 107 ff. The irrational soul, being 
mortal, is not a baipuv ■ but the Laws seem to hint that the "heavenly" SaiAW v has an evil daemonic counterpart in the "Titan 
nature" which is a hereditary root of wickedness in man (701 C , 854 B : cf. chap, v, nn. 132, 133). 

32 Tim . 69 C . In the Politicus , 309 C , Plato had already referred to the two elements in man as 




t 6 ov rrjs 4> t'X*? 5 and T ° fqoytvis , which implies that the latter is mortal. But there they are still "parts" of the 

same soul. In the Timaeus they are usually spoken of as distinct "kinds" of soul; they have a different origin; and the lower 
"kinds" are shut away from the divine element lest they pollute it "beyond the unavoidable minimum" (69 D ). If we are meant 
to take this language literally, the unity of the personality is virtually abandoned. Cf., however, Laws 863 B , where the question 
whether Ovptrt is a irdfloi or a pipos of the soul is left open, and Tim . 91 E , where the term ptpV is used. 

33 Xen. Cyrop . 6.1.41. Xenophon's imaginary Persian is no doubt a Mazdean dualist. But it is unnecessary to suppose that the 
psychology of the Timaeus (in which the irrational soul is conceived as educable, and therefore not incurably depraved) is 
borrowed from Mazdean sources. It has Greek antecedents in the archaic doctrine of the indwelling balpwv (chap, ii, p. 42), and 
in Empedocles' distinction between SaJpwy and ^ U .X'7 (chap, v, p. 153); and Plato's adoption of it can be explained in terms of 
the development of his own thought. On the general question of Oriental influence on Plato's later thought I have said something 
in J HS 65 (1945). Since then, the problem has been fully discussed by Jula Kerschensteiner, Plato u. d. Orient (Diss. Munchen, 
1945); by Simone Petrement, Le Dualisme chez Platon ; and by Festugiere in an important paper, "Platon et I'Orient," Rev. de 
Phil . 21 (1947) 5 ff. So far as concerns the suggestion of a Mazdean origin for Plato's dualism, the conclusions of all three 
writers are negative. 

34 Laws 644 DE . The germ of this idea may be seen already in the Ion , where we are told that God, operating on the passions 

through the "inspired" poets, ivxyv oroi av SovXyrai rw*> &y€pwira>v (536 A ), though the image there is that of the 

magnet. Cf. also Laws 903 D , where God is "the gamester" (»<tr«UTijf ) an d men are his pawns. 

35 Laws , 803 B -804 B 

36 Ibid ., 713 CD . 

37 Ibid ., 716 C . 

38 Ibid ., 902 B 906 A ; cf. Critias , 109 B . 

39 I bid ., 716 A . For the implications of rairut'ds , cf., e.g., 774 C , 5ovXfio Ta,r<t *’ 1 ) *•! &vt\tv0tpot To be T(nr*»>dr towards 
the gods was for Plutarch a mark of superstition ( non posse suaviter , 1101 E ), as it was also for Maximus of Tyre (14.7 Hob.) 
and probably for most Greeks. 

40 Ibid ., 486 A ; cf. Theaet . 173 C - E , Arist. E.N . 1123 b 32. 

41 Meno 100 A , Phaedo 62 B . 

42 Phaedo 81 E -82 B ,. 

43 Plot. Enn . 6.7.6: ptraXaflov/ri) 1 5( fhjptiov aupa davpa^trai iraisXd-yos o5<ra avdpuvov . cf. ibid ., 1.1.11; Alex. Aphrod. 
de anima p. 27 Br. (Suppl. Arist. II. i); Porphyry apud Aug. Civ. Dei , 10.30; Iamblichus apud Nemes. nat. horn . 2 ( PG 40, 584 
A ); Proclus, in Tim . III. 294, 22 ff. The notion of reincarnation in animals was in fact transferred from the occult self of 
Pythagoreanism to the rational V U X^ which it did not fit: cf. Rostagni, 1 1 Verbo di Pitagora , 118. 

44 Laws 942 AB : "The principal thing is that none, man or woman, should ever be without an officer set over him, and that 

none should get the mental habit of taking any step, whether in earnest or in jest, on his individual responsibility: in peace as in 
war he must live always with his eye on his superior officer, following his lead and guided by him in his smallest actions ... in a 
word, we must train the mind not even to consider acting as an individual or know how to do it." 

45 On later developments of the theme of the unimportance of iiavOpwiriva. 

see Festugiere in Eranos , 44 (1946) 376 ff. For 

man as a puppet cf. M. Ant. 7-3 and Plot. Enn . 3.2.15 (1.244.26 Volk.). 

46 Apol . 22 C , poets and inspired seers X(7<wi piv iroXXa Kdi xaXa fffaoiv 6' oi/Sh up \iyova i . The same thing is said of 

politicians and seers, Meno 99 CD ; of poets, I on 5 33 E -534 D , Laws 719 C ; of seers, Tim . 72 A . 

47 Laches 1 98 E ; Charm . 173 C . 

48 The attack on poetry in the Republic is usually taken to be Platonic rather than Socratic: but the view of poetry as irrational, 
on which the attack depends, appears already in the Apology (n. 46 above). 

49 Chap, vi, p. 185. 

50 Phaedrus 244 CD ; Tim . 72 B . 

51 Cf. R. G. Collingwood, "Plato's Philosophy of Art," Mind N.S. 34 (1925) 154 ff.; E. Fascher, npo^rtjf r 66 ff.; Jeanne 
Croissant, Aristote et les mysteres , 14 ff.; A. Delatte, Les Conceptions de de I'enthousiasme , 57 ff.; P. Boyance, Le Culte des 
Muses , 177 ff.; W. J. Verdenius, "L 1 Ion de Platon," Mnem . 1943, 233 ff., and "Platon et la poesie," ibid ., 1944, 118 ff.; I. M. 
Linforth, "The Corybantic Rites in Plato," Univ. Calif. Publ. Class. Philol . 13 (1946) 160 ff. Some of these critics would divorce 
Plato's religious language from any sort of religious feeling: it is "no more than a pretty dress in which he clothes his thought" 
(Croissant); "to call art a divine force or an inspiration is simply to call it aje ne sais quoi " (Collingwood). This seems to me to 
miss part of Plato's meaning. On the other hand, those who, like Boyance, take his language quite literally seem to overlook the 
ironical undertone which is evident in passages like Meno 99 CD and may be suspected elsewhere. 

52 Phdr 244 A : pafin iopti 5i bopivyi 

53 Cf. chap, iii, p. 80. 

54 Laws 719 C , the poet olov Kp^pij ns rd inov l>uv frolput H . 

55 Syrup . 202 E : 5ld TOVTOV (sc. «# Saipoviov ) xai r) Tttcra . 

Xuptl icat 17 twv itptuv tuv re Ttpi ras (Wtas *al r«X<ras *al 

rdj triads Kai tijc pavTtiav iraoav *ai yojjrdav 

56 In the "rating of lives," Phdr . 248 D , the pdvTtr 0 r r *X*«rr^I anc | the poet are placed in the fifth and sixth classes 
respectively, below even the business man and the athlete. For Plato's opinion of.udvmj cf. also Politicus 290 CD ; Laws 908 D . 
Nevertheless both paprtir an d poets are assigned a function, though a subordinate one, in his final project for a reformed 
society ( Laws 660 A , 828 B ); and we hear of a udvris w ho had studied under him in the Academy (Plut. Dion . 22). 

57 Chap, ii, p. 41; chap, vi, pp. 185 f. Cf. Taylor, Plato , 65: "In the Greek literature of the great period, Eros is a god to be 
dreaded for the havoc he makes of human life, not to be coveted for the blessings he bestows; a tiger, not a kitten to sport 
with." 

58 Phdr . 249 E , the erotic madness is raffup tup ivQovoibunuv dpiffrrj . 

59 This religious language does not, however, exclude for Plato an explanation of erotic attraction in mechanistic 

terms— suggested, perhaps, by Empedocles or Democritus— by postulating physical "emanations" from the eye of the beloved 




which are eventually reflected back upon their author ( Phdr . 251 B , 255 CD ). Cf. the mechanistic explanation of the catharsis 
produced by Corybantic rites, Laws 791 A (which is called Democritean by Delatte and Croissant, Pythagorean by Boyance, but 
may quite possibly be Plato's own). 

60 Eros as a baipup has the general function of linking the human with the divine, w<rr« t av avrb aiira crvv&titodai ( 

Symp . 202 E ). In conformity with that function, Plato sees the sexual and the nonsexual manifestations of Eros as expressions 
of the same basic impulse towards t6kos Ip koXcIi — a phrase which is for him the statement of a deep-seated organic law. Cf. I. 
Bruns, "Attische Liebestheorien," Njbb 1900, 17 ff. , and Grube, op. cit ., 115. 

61 Symp . 207 AB . 

62 It is significant that the theme of immortality, in its usual Platonic sense, is completely missing from the Symposium ; and 
that in the Phaedrus , where a sort of integration is attempted, this can be achieved only at the level of myth, and only at the 
cost of treating the irrational soul as persisting after death and 'retaining its carnal appetites in the discarnate state. 

63 In the following pages I am especially indebted to the excellent monograph of O. Reverdin, La Religion de la cite platonicienne 
(Travaux de I'Ecole Frangaise d'Athenes, fasc. VI, 1945), which I have not found the less valuable because the, writer's religious 
standpoint is very different from my own. 

64 Laws 717 AB . Cf. 738 D : every village is to have its local god, Salmon- / 0 r hero, as every village in Attica probably in fact 
had (Ferguson, Harv. Theol. Rev . 37 [1944] 128 ff.). 

65 Ibid ., 904 A , vbpov 6vrti Btol ( C f. 8 85 B and, if the text is sound, 891 E ). 

66 Crat . 400 D , Phdr . 246 C . Cf. also Critias 107 AB ; Epin . 984 D (which sounds definitely contemptuous). Those who, like 
Reverdin ( op. cit ., 53), credit Plato with a wholehearted personal belief in the traditional gods, because he prescribes their cult 
and nowhere explicitly denies their existence, seem to me to make insufficient allowance for the compromises necessary to any 
practical scheme of religious reform, To detach the masses completely from their inherited beliefs, had it been possible, would in 
Plato's view have been disastrous; and no reformer can openly reject for himself what he would prescribe for others. See further 
my remarks in J FIS 65 (1945) 22 f. 

67 Tim . 28 C . On the much-debated question of Plato's God see especially Dies, Autour de Platon , 523 ff.; Festugiere, L'l deal 
religieux des Grecs et I'Evangile , 172 ff.; Flackforth, "Plato's Theism," CQ 30 (1936) 4 ff.; F. Solmsen, Plato's Theology (Cornall, 
1942). I have stated my own tentative view, J FIS , loc. cit ., 23. 

68 The heavenly bodies are everywhere the natural representatives or symbols of what Christopher Dawson calls "the 
transcendent element in external reality" ( Religion and Culture , 29). Cf. Apol . 26 D , where we are told that "everybody," 
including Socrates himself, believes the sun and the moon to be gods; and Crat . 397 CD , where the heavenly bodies are 
represented as the primitive gods of Greece. But in the fourth century, as we learn from the Epinomis , 982 D , this belief was 
beginning to fade before the popularising of mechanistic explanations (of. Lares 967 A ; Epin . 983 C ). Its revival in the 
Flellenistic Age was in no small degree due to Plato himself. 

69 On the question of animation versus external control see Lams 898 E -899 A , Epin . 983 C . Animation was no doubt the 
popular theory, and was to prevail in the coming age; but Plato refuses to decide (the stars are either 0tot or 

Btwv ibiNt as &yA\P ara Beav airrav ipyaoaptvuv ( Epin . g 8 3 E ; for the latter view cf. Tim . 37 C ). 

70 Laws 821 B - D . In itself, prayer to the sun was not foreign to Greek tradition: Socrates prays to him at sunrise ( Symp . 220 
D ), and a speaker in a lost play of Sophocles prays: V(X(°s, oixre'ipeie pt | 

8* ol (jo 4x>l \iyo\m yivvyrriv dtav | teal raripa t Array (fr 752 P .). Elsewhere in the Laws (887 D ) Plato speaks of 
TrpoKvXicrtimpa k<u rpo<jKvri\oeis JZWyvav re xai papfiapuv a t the rising and setting of the sun and moon. Festagiere has 
accused him of misrepresenting the facts here: "hi I'objet de culte ni le geste d'adoration ne sont grecs: ils sont barbares. II 
s'agit de I'astrologie chaldeenne et de la 'cpoaKVPrjois e n usage a Babylone et chez les Perses" ( Rev. de Phil . 21 [1947] 23). But 
while we may allow that the cpoxvXiaeis r an d perhaps the moon-cult, are barbarian rather than Greek, Plato's statement seems 
sufficiently justified by Fiesiod's role of prayer and offerings at sunrise and sundown ( Erga 338 f.) and by Ar. Plut . 771: 

Kai irpooxvva ye rpara pip t6vj)\ iop, kt\ Nevertheless, the proposals of the Laws do seem to give the heavenly bodies a 
religious importance which they lacked in ordinary Greek cult, though there may have been partial precedents in Pythagorean 
thought and usage (cf. chap, viii, n. 68). And in the Epinomis —which I am now inclined to regard either as Plato's own work or 
as put together from his "Nachlass"— we meet with something that is certainly Oriental, and is frankly presented as such, the 
proposal for public worship of the planets . 

71 Laws 946 BC , 947 A . The dedication is not merely formal: the tvOvvop are to be actually housed in the riptyos of the joint 
temple (946 CD ). It should be added that the proposal to institute a High Priest (p.p\iepevs ) appears to be an innovation; at any 
rate the title is nowhere attested before Flellenistic times (Reverdin, op. cit ., 61 f.). Presumably it reflects Plato's sense of the 
need for a tighter organisation of the religious life of Greek communities. The High Priest will be, however, like other priests, a 
layman, and will hold office only for a year; Plato did not conceive the idea of a professional clergy, and would certainly, I think, 
have disapproved it, as tending to impair the unity of "Church" and State, religious and political life. 

72 See Festugiere, Le Dieu cosmique (= La Revelation d'Hermes , II, Paris, 1949); and my chap, viii, p. 240. 

73 Divine 4>BbvoS j S explicitly rejected, Phdr . 247 A , Tim . 29 E (and Arist. Met . 983 a 2). 

74 See chap, ii, n. 32. 

75 Laws 903 B , (“Jabav pvda v : c f. 8 72 e , where the doctrine of requital in future earthly lives is called 

pvOot t) Xbyos ij o ti XPV irpooayopefav&irrb ( an d L. Edelstein, "The Function of the Myth in Plato's Philosophy," J ournal of the 
History of Ideas , 10 (1949) 463 ff. 

76 Ibid ., 904 C -905 D ; cf. also 728 BC , and Plotinus' development of this idea, Enn . 4.3.24. 

77 904 D : re xai ra rovrap i\6ptpa rap bvaparay iiroPopA^ovres 

ofybbpa ipoPovPTai xai bveipoToXovoi v f avres SiaXvdey res re ravaapArav Plato's language here ( 

bvoparav , bpeipowoXovaiP ) suggests that popular beliefs about the Underworld have no more than symbolic value. But the last 
words of the sentence are puzzling : they can hardly mean "when in sleep or trance" (England), since they are antithetic to 
fuOTtS , but seem to assert that the fear of Hades continues after death . Does Plato intend to hint that to experience this 
fear— the fruit of a guilty conscience— is already to be in Hades? That would accord with the general doctrine which he preached 
from the Gorgias onward, that wrongdoing is its own punishment. 

78 903 CD , 905 B . On the significance of this point of view see Festugiere, La Saintete , 6o ff., and V. Goldschmidt, La Religion 
de Platon , 101 f. It became one of the commonplaces of Stoicism, e.g., Chrysippus apud Plut. Sto. rep . 44, 1054 F , M. Ant. 




6.45, and reappears in Plotinus, e.g., Enn . 3.2.14. Men live in the cosmos like mice in a great house, enjoying splendours not 
designed for them (Cic. nat. deor . 2.17). 

79 Euttyphro , 14 E . Cf. Laws 716 E -717 A . 

80 Rep . 364 B -365 A ; Laws 909 B (cf 908 D ). The verbal similarities of the two passages are, I think, sufficient to show that 

Plato has in view the same class of persons (Thomas, 'Eir^retPO, , 30, Reverdin, op. cit ., 226). 

81 Rep . 364 E : I’dftnrij ov pbvov iSuIrraT AXXA <tal toXus ( c f. 366 AB , *1 piyiarat, ir6X«u ) ( Laws 909 B : 

ISuLrat rt *ai SXasoUias «cai rSXus XPVpknov xkptv ivixupuaiv kclt’ tucpa j Jaipur . Plato may have in mind famous 
historical instances like the purification of Athens by Epimenides (mentioned at Laws 642 D , where the respectful tone is in 
character for the Cretan speaker) or of Sparta by Thaletas: cf. Festugiere, REG 51 (1938) 197. Boyance, REG 55 (1942) 232, 
has objected that Epimenides was unconcerned with the Hereafter. But this is true only on Diels' assumption that the writings 
attributed to him were "Orphic" forgeries— an assumption which, whether it be correct or not, Plato is unlikely to have made. 

82 I find it hard to believe— as many still do, on the strength of "Musaeus and his son" ( Rep . 363 C )— that Plato intended to 

condemn the official Mysteries of Eleusis: cf. Nilsson, Harv. Theol. Rev . 28 (1935) 208 f., and Festugiere, loc. cit . Certainly he 

cannot have meant to suggest in the Laws that the Eleusinian priesthood should be brought to trial for an offence which he 
regards as worse than atheism (907 B ). On the other hand, the Republic passage does not justify restricting Plato's 
condemnation to "Orphic" books and practices, though these are certainly include. The parallel passage in the Laws does not 
mention Orpheus at all. 

83 See above, n. 6. 

84 Rep . 427 BC ; Laws 738 BC , 759 C . 

85 I do not intend to imply that for Plato Apolline religion is simply a pious lie, a fiction maintained for its social usefulness. 
Rather it reflects or symbolises religious truth at the level offUaffid at which it can be assimilated by the people. Plato's 
universe was a graded one: as he believed in degrees of truth and reality, so he believed in degrees of religious insight. Cf. 
Reverdin, op. cit ., 243 ff. 

86 Laws 873 E . Pollution is incurred in all cases of homicide, even involuntary (865 CD ), or of suicide (873 D ), and requires a 

ltd Oapait which will be prescribed by the Delphic Hi T l7 , l rat . The infectiousness is recognised within certain limits (881 

DE , cf. 916 C , and chap, ii, n. 43). 

87 Laws 907 D -909 D . Those whose irreligious teaching is aggravated by antisocial conduct are to suffer solitary confinement 
for life (909 BC ) in hideous surroundings (908 A )— a fate which Plato rightly regards as worse than death (908 E ). Grave ritual 
offences, such as sacrificing to a god when in a state of impurity, are to be punishable by death (91 OCE ), as they were at 
Athens: this is defended on the old ground that such acts bring the anger of the gods on the entire city (91 OB ). 

88 I bid ., 967 BC , "certain persons" who formerly got themselves into trouble through falsely asserting that the heavenly bodies 
were "a pack of stones and earth" had only themselves to blame for it. But the view that astronomy is a dangerous science is, 
thanks to modern discoveries, now out of date (967 A ); some smattering of it is indeed a necessary part of religious education 
(967 D -968 A ). 

89 Cornford has drawn a striking parallel between Plato's position and that of the Grand Inquisitor in the story told in The 
Brothers Karamazov ( The Unwritten Philosophy , 66 f.). 

90 Cf. Laws , 885 D : owe in rd pij Spav rA SSixa rpucSpida ol irXuaroi , Sp&aavris 6' <£a«la0at vupupfOd , and 888 B : 
plytffrov Si . . .rd Tipi row 0eov j 6p0dis SiavorfOivra tfv (taXwi fj jlf For the wide diffusion of materialism see 891 B . 

VI 1 1 The Fear of Freedom 

1 A completely "open" society would be, as I understand the term, a society whose modes of behaviour were entirely determined 
by a rational choice between possible alternatives and whose adaptations were all of them conscious and deliberate (in contrast 
with the completely "closed" society in which all adaptation would be unconscious and no one would ever be aware of making a 
choice). Such a society has never existed and will never exist; but one can usefully speak of relatively closed and relatively open 
societies, and can think in broad terms of the history of civilisation as the history of a movement away from the former type and 
in the general direction of the latter. Cf. K. R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies (London, 1945), and the paper by 
Auden quoted below. On the novelty of the third-century situation see Bevan, Stoics and Sceptics , 23 ff. 

2 W. H. Auden, "Criticism in a Mass Society," The Mint , 2 (1948) 4. Cf. also Walter Lippmann, A Preface to Morals , 106 ff., on 
"the burden of originality." 

3 See pp. 242 f. 

4 Aristotle, E.N. 1177 b 24-1178 a 2. Cf. fr. 61: man is quasi mortalis deus. 

5 Stoicorum Veterum Fragments , ed. Arnim (cited henceforth as SVF ), 1.146: 

Zjjvwv 6 KiTltOf 6 StohkAs u}>ij . . . 8«I>> . . . 760**0*’ i* P° V V T V »V, pdXXov Si 0t6v yyi’iirffat t6v vovv God 

himself (or itself) is "the right reason which penetrates all things" (Diog. Laert. 7.88, cf. SVF 1.160-162). For such a view there 
were precedents in earlier speculation (cf., e.g., Diogenes of Apollonia fr. 5); but it appeared now for the first time as the 
foundation of a systematic theory of human life. 

6 Epicurus, Epist . 3.135: Si wt 6(6% Iv avSpioiroit . cf. also Sent. Vat. 33; Aelian, V.H. 4.13 (= fr. 602 Usener); and 

Lucr. 3.322. 

7 Aristotle, Met . 1072 b 14: Stay wrh 6’ iffriv o'ia Apiortj piKpSvxpovov ijplp . 

8 Chap, iii, pp. 79 f.; iv, p. 120. 

9 Cf. also Jaeger, Aristotle , 159 ff., 240 f., 396 f. ; Boyance, Culte des Muses , 185 ff. 

10 Cic. Acad, post . 1.38 = SVF 1.199. 

11 Unity of the r t 'X T i , SVF 11.823, etc. Zeno defined Ta0QS as "an irrational and unnatural disturbance of the mind" ( SVF 1.205). 
Chrysippus went further, actually identifying the with erroneous judgements: SVF III. 456, 461, 

Xpi'ffiTTos piv . . . aToStiKVvvaiTHpaTou, xpiaiis tiv As tlvai tov XoyicrruroC' ra iro Or), 7 ,tivuv 
S' ou tAs Kpiaus avr As, AXXa tot iTiyiyvopivas air a is avaroXas 
Kai xucrut, hrapatts n xai irraxrtiT rrjt 4/vxvi lv6pi$iv ilvtu rA t&0t). 

12 SVF III. 444: Stoici affectus omnes, quorum impulsu animus commovetur, ex homine tollunt, cupiditatem, laetitiam, metum, 




maestitiem.... Haec quattuor morbos vocant, non tarn natura insitos quam prava opinione susceptos: et idcirco eos censent 
exstirpari posse radicitus, si bonorum malorumque opinio falsa tollatur. The characterisation of the Sage is Tarn's ( Hellenistic 
Civilisation , 273). 

13 Cf. Bevan's interesting discussion, op. cit 66 ff. 

14 In his r( P' 1 vaduy ( 0 n which which drew in his treatise de placitis Hippocratis et Platonis . Cf. Pohlenz, NJ bb Supp. 24 (1898) 
537 ff., and Die Stoa , 1.89 ff.; Reinhardt, Poseidonios , 263 ff.; Edelstein, AJ P 47 (1936) 305 ff. It would seem that the false 
unity of the Zenonian psychology had already been modified by Panaetius (Cicero, Off . 1.101), but Posidonius carried the 
revision much further. 

15 A newly recovered treatise by Galen, in which most of the material seems to be taken from Posidonius, develops this 
argument at some length, citing the differences of character observable in infants and animus: see R. Walzer, "New Light on 
Galen's Moral Philosophy," CQ 43 (1949) 82 ff. 

16 Galen, on ra is roC auparos xpaotaiv xr\ ( p . yg.8 ff. Muller: 

ou TOtPi'J' ovSi noou&wvta boxti r-rjv xaxiav i%u$tv iirtiaiivai rolr 
i.vdp&wois ovStpiav fx ovlT av pifav iv rats •fipuv , odtv 

bppuphr) (3Xa<rram r « xai av£avtrai, dXX’ a ini rovvavrlov. 

*:ai yap ovv xal rfjv xax ias iv i\piv aOrots ani ppa, xai Stoptff a 
T&vTts ovx oi'/ru too 6tvyt iv touj it ovypout ws rov Swxuv row 

xadaplaovrif rt «oi xuXvaovrai r)pwv n}v atfyaiv rijt xaxlat . C f. plac. Hipp. et Plat ., pp. 436.7 ff. Muller: in his treatment 
(dtpart ta ) 0 f the passions Posidonius followed Plato, not Chrysippus. It is interesting that the inner conflict of Euripides' Medea, 
in which the fifth-century poet had expressed his protest against the crudities of rationalist psychology (chap, vi, p. 186), also 
played a part in this controversy, being quoted, oddly enough, by both sides (Galen, plac. Hipp. et Plat ., p. 342 Muller; ibid ., p. 
382 = SVF 111.473 ad fin .). 

17 Cf. Epicurus, Epist . 1.81 f.; Sexes Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp . 1.29. 

18 Seneca, Epist . 89.8: nec philosophia sine virtute cat nec sine philosophia virtus. Cf. the Epicurean Pap. Here . 1251, col. 
xiii. 6 : 0 iXo< 7 O 0 £aT Si’ ifr pivijt tanv 6p6orpaytiv 

19 Cf. Philodemus, de dis III, fr. 84 Diels = Usener, Epicurea fr. 386: the wise man TtipaTai avvtyyl^tiv avryj ( sc the divine 

character) xaOair tpti yXiytTai Siytlv xai awuvai . 

20 Festugere, Le Dieu cosmique , xii f.; Epicure et ses dieux , 95 ff. Against the view that early Stoicism represents an intrusion 
of "Oriental mysticism" into Greek thought see Le Dieu cosmique , 266, n. 1, and Bevan, op. cit ., 20 ff. The general relation of 

philosophy to religion in this age is well stated by Wendland, Die hellenistisch-rdmische Kultur 2 , 106 ff. 

21 Pyrrho is said to have held a high-priesthood (Diog. Laert. 9.64). 

22 SVF 1.146, 264-267. 

23 SVF 11.1076. 

24 Chrysippus, ibid . A like allegorisation is attributed to the Platonist Xenocrates (Aetius, 1.7.30 =Xen. fr. 15 Heinze). 

25 Cf. W. Schubart, "Die religiose Haltung des fruhen Hellenismus," Der Alte Orient , 35 (1937) 22 ff.; M. Pohlenz, "Kleanthus 1 
Zeushymnus," Hermes , 75 (1940) esp. 122 f. Festugiere has now given us an illuminating commentary on Cleanthes' Hymn ( Le 
Dieu cosmique , 310 ff.). 

26 Philodemus, de pietate , pp. 126-128 Gomperz=Usener, Epicurea , frs. 12, 13, 169, 387. Cf. Festugiere, Epicure et ses dieux 
, 86 ff. 

27 Ai’iiJirtp^Xrjroi' d[ff*3ti]av ( philod., ibid ., p. 112. For Plato, cf. chap, vii, p. 222. Epicures accepted the first and third of the 
basic propositions of Laws x, but rejected the second, belief in which seemed to him a main source of human unhappiness. 

28 Epicurus apud Sen. Epist. 2910, who adds: idem hoc omnes tibi conclamabunt, Peripatetici, Academici, Stoici, Cynici. 

29 Down to the end of the fifth century, Greek epitaphs rarely in-dude any pronouncement on the fate of the dead; when they 
do, they nearly always speak in terms of the Homeric Hades (on the most striking exception, the Potidaea epitaph, see chap, v, 
n. 112). Hopes of personal immortality begin to appear in the fourth century— when they are sometimes couched in language 
suggestive of Eleusinian influence and become somewhat less rare in the Hellenistic Age, but show little trace of Being based on 
specific religious doctrines. Reincarnation is never referred to (Cumont, Lux Perpetua , 206). Explicitly sceptical epitaphs seem to 
begin with Alexandrian intellectuals. But a man like Callimachus could exploit by turns the conventional view ( Epigr . 4. Mein.), 
the optimistic ( Epigr . 10), or the sceptical ( Epigr . 13). On the whole, there is nothing in the evidence to contradict Aristotle's 

statement that most people consider the mortality or immortality of the soul -an open question ( Soph. Elench . 176 b 16). On 
the whole subject see Festugiere, L'l deal rel. des grecs , Pt. II, chap, v, and R. Lattimore, "Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs," 
Illinois Studies , 28 (1942). 

30 Cf. Schubart's cautious verdict ( loc. cit ., 11): "wo in solchen ©serungen wirklicher Glaube spricht und wo nur eine schone 
Wendung klingt, das entzieht sich jedem sicheren Urteil." 

31 Athenaeus, 253 D = Powell, Collectanea Alexandrina , p. 173. The date is not quite certain, probably 260 B.C. 

32 

aXXot ptv fj fiaxpav yap airi\ov<riv dtoi, 
fl ov k tyovaiv ura, 

tj ovx itaiv, t) ov vpoaixovaiv i )piv oi'Si iv, 
at Si irapovO' Spuptv, 

ov $vkivov ovSi Xiffivov, AXX viv, j do oof understand how Rostovtzoff can say in his Ingersoll Lee-rare ("The 

Mentality of the Hellenistic World and the After-Life," Hazard Divinity School Bulletin , 1938-1939) that there is "no blasphemy 
and no aoifteia 11 here, if he is using these terms in the traditional Greek sense. And how does he know that the hymn is "an 
outburst of sincere religious feeing"? That was not the view of the contemporary historian Demochares ( apud Athen. 253 A ), 
and I can find nothing in the words to suggest it. The piece was presumably written to order (on Demetrius' attitude see Tarn, 
Antigonos Gonatas , 90 f.), and could well have been composed in the spirit of Demosthenes advising the Assembly "to 
recognise Alexander as the son of Zeus— or Poseidon if he fancies it." Demetrius is the son of Poseidon and Aphrodite? 

Certainly— why not— provided he will prove it by bringing peace and dealing with those Aetolians. 




33 Athen. 253 F (from Duris or Demochares?): "W $ iov Ma/wi&iVojidxawv *»IMO<ria ^vov, dXXa icat *ar’ oiniav . 

34 We are not unique in this. The fifth century, with Delphic approval, "heroised" its great athletes, and occasionally its great 
men, presumably in response to popular demand: not, however, until they were dead. A tendency to this sort of thing has 
perhaps existed at all times and places, but a serious supernaturalism keeps it within bounds. The honours paid to a Brasidas 
pale before those of almost any Hellenistic king, and Hitler got nearer to being a god than any conqueror of the Christian period. 

35 It would seem that once the habit had been established, divine honours were often offered spontaneously, even by Greeks; 
and in some cases to the genuine embarrassment of the recipients, e.g. Antigonos Gonatas, who on hearing himself described as 
a god retorted drily, "The man who empties my chamberpot has not noticed it" (Plut. Is. et Os . 24, 360 CD ). 

36 Not kings only, but private benefactors were worshipped, sometimes even in their lifetime (Tarn, Hellenistic Age , 48 f.). And 
the Epicurean practice of referring to their founder as a god (Lucr. 5.8, deus ille fuit, Cic. Tusc . 1.48, eumque venerantur ut 
deum) was rooted in the same habit of mind— was not Epicures a greater ti*pyiTrp than any king? Plato again, if he did not 
actually receive divine honours after death (chap, vii, n. 9), was already believed in his nephew's day to have been a son of 
Apollo (Diog. Laert. 3.2). These facts seem to me to tell against W. S. Ferguson's view ( Amer. Hist. Rev . 18 [1912-1913] 29 
ff.) that Hellenistic ruler-worship was essentially a political device and nothing more, the religious element being mealy focal. In 
the case of rulers, reverence for the tvtpytTW or wrrjp was doubtless reinforced, consciously or unconsciously, by the ancient 
sense of a "royal mana " (cf. Weinreich, NJ bb 1926, 648 f.), which in turn may be thought to rest upon unconscious identification 
of king with father. 

37 Nilsson, Greek Piety (Eng. trans., 1948), 86. For the deep impression left on men's minds in the late fourth century by the 
occurrence of unpredictable revolutionary events see the striking words of Demetrius of Phaleron apud Polyb. 29.21, and 
Epicurus' remark that oi roXXot believe TV X T l to be a goddess ( Epist . 3.134). An early example of actual cult is Timoieon's 
dedication of an altar to M'TOitaria (plut. Timol . 36, qua quis rat . 11, 542 E ). This sort of impersonal morally neutral 
Power— with which New Comedy made so much play, cf. Stob. Eel . 1.6— is something different from the "luck" of an individual or 
a city, which has older roots (cf. chap, ii, nn. 79, 80). The best study of the whole subject will be found in Wilamowitz, Glaube , 
11.298-309. 

38 A. Kardiner, The Psychological Frontiers of Society , 443. Cf. Wilamowitz, Glaube , 11.271, "Das Wort des Euripides, 

itat diovtffyovfMOa ( j S t voile Wahrheit geworden." 

39 On the earlier phases of this development see Nilsson, Gesch . 1:760 ff.; on its importance for the Hellenistic period, 
Festugiere, Epicure et ses dieux , 19. 

40 A. N. Whitehead, Religion in the Making , 6. 

41 The standard book on the Hellenistic clubs is F. Poland's Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesens . For a short account in 
English see M. N. Tod, Sidelights on Creek History , lecture iii. The psychological function of such associations in a society where 
traditional bonds have broken down is well brought out by de Grazia, The Political Community , 144 ff. 

42 In this brief sketch I have taken no account of the position in the newly Hellenised East, where the incoming Greeks found 
firmly established local cults of non-Greek gods, to whom they duly paid their respects, sometimes under Greek names. On the 
lands of old Greek culture, Oriental influence was still relatively slight; further east, Greek and Oriental forms of worship lived 
side by side, without hostility, but apparently as yet without much attempt at syncretism (cf. Schubart, loc. cit ., 5 f.). 

43 Dittenberger, Syll . 3 894 ( A.D. , 262/3). 

44 IG VII. 53 (fourth century A.D. ). 

45 Cf. Festugiere et Fabre, Monde greco-romain , 11.86. 

46 Matthew Arnold to Grant Duff, August 22, 1879: "But I more and more learn the extreme slowness of things; and that, 
though we are all disposed to think that everything will change in our lifetime, it will not." 

47 This is not to deny that there was an organised and bitter opposition to the Christianisation of the Empire. But it came from a 
small class of Hellenising intellectuals, supported by an active group of conservative-minded senators, rather than from the 
masses. On the whole subject see 1. Geffcken, Der Ausgang des griechisch-romischen Heidentums (Heidelberg, 1920). 

48 For the prevalence of scepticism among the Roman populace of., e.g., Cic. Tusc . 1.48: quae est anus tarn delira quae timeat 
ista?; Juv. 2.149 ff.: esse aliquid Manes, et subterranea regna... nee pueri credunt, nisi qui nondum acre lavantur; Sen. Epist . 
24.18: nemo tarn puer est ut Cerberum timeat, etc. Such rhetorical statements should not, however, be taken too literally (cf. 

W. Kroll, "Die Religiositat in der Zeit Ciceros," NJ bb 1928, 514 ff.). We have on the other side the express testimony of Lucian, 
de luctu . 

49 In the following paragraphs I am especially indebted to Festugiere's L'Astrologie et les sciences occultes ('= La Recelation 
d'Hermes Trismegiste , I [Paris, 1944]), which is much the best introduction to ancient occultism as a whole. For astrology see 
also Cumont's Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans , and the excellent short account in H. Gressmann's Die 
Hellenistische Gestirnreligion . 

50 Murray, Five Stages of Greek Religion , chap. iv. 

51 Hdt. 2.82.1. It is not quite certain that the reference is to astrology. 

52 Cic. Div . 2.87: Eudoxus, ... sic opinatur, id quod scripture reliquit, Chaldaeis in praedictione et in notatione cuiusque vitae ex 
natali die minime esse credendum. Plato also rejects it, at least by implication, at Tim . 40 CD ; the passage was understood in 
later antiquity as referring specifically to astrology (see Taylor on 40 D 1), but it is quite possible that Plato had in mind only the 
traditional Greek view of eclipses as portents. Of other fourth-century writers, it is probable that Ctesias knew something of 
astrology, and there is a slight indication that Democritus may have done so (W. Capelle, Hermes , 6o [1925] 373 ff.). 

53 The souls of the unborn take on the characters of the gods whom they "follow" (252 CD ), and these twelve &pxovTtr 
seem to be located in the twelve signs of the zodiac (247A) with which Eudoxus had associated them, though Plato does not say 
this in so many words. But Plato, unlike the astrologers, is careful to safeguard free will. Cf. Bidez, Eos , 60 ff., and Festugiere, 
Rev. de Phil . 21 (1947) 24 ff. I agree with the latter that the "astrology" of this passage is no more than a piece of imaginative 
decoration. It is significant that Theophrastus ( spud Proelus, in Tim . III. 151.1 ff.) still spoke of astrology, as if it were a purely 
foreign art (whether he felt for it all the admiration that Proelus attributes him may reasonably be doubted). 

54 Festugiere, L'Astrologie , 76 ff. Some of the fragments of "Neehepso's" work, which has been called "the astrologer's Bible," 
were collected by Riess, Philologus , Supp.-Band 6 (1892) 327 ff. 

55 Cato includes "Chaldaei" among the riff-raft whom the farm steward should be warned not to consult ( de agri cultura 54). A 
little later, in 139 B.C. , they were expelled from Rome for the first but by no means the last time (Val. Max. 1.3.3). In the 
following century they were back again, and by then senators as well as farm stewards were numbered among their clients. 




56 Epicurus, Epist . 1.76 ff., 2.85 ff. (cf. Festugiere, Epicure et ses dieux , 102 ff.). A sentence in 1.79 sounds like a specific 
warning against the astrologers (Bailey ad loc. ). 

57 Diogenes of Seleucia, called "the Babylonian," who died ca . 152 B.C. According to Cicero ( div . 2.90), he admitted some but 
not all of the claims made for astrology. Earlier Stoics had perhaps not thought it necessary to express any view, since Cicero 
says definitely that Panaetius (Diogenes' immediate successor) was the only Stoic who rejected astrology ( ibid ., 2.88), while 
Diogenes is the only one he quotes in its favour. See, however, SVF 11.954, which seems to imply that Chrysippus believed in 
horoscopes. 

58 Cleanthes thought that Aristarthus ought to be had up (like Anaxagoras before him and Galileo after him) for&<r//3«ia (Plut. 
de facie 6, 923 A = SVF 1.500). In the third century that was no longer possible; but it seems likely that theological prejudice 
played some part in securing the defeat of heliocentrism. Cf. the horror of it expressed by the Platonist Dercylides, apud Theon 
Smyrn., p. 200.7 Hiller. 

59 Cicero, div . 2.87-99; Plot. Enn . 2.3 and 2.9.13. The astrologers were delighted by Plotinus' painful end, which they 
explained as the merited punishment of his blasphemous lack of respect for the stars. 

60 See M. Wellmann, "Die ‘fi'ff'iitd des Bolos," Abh. Berl. ,Akad ., phil.-hist. Kl., 1928; W. Kroll, "Bolos und Demokritos," Flermes 
, 69 (1934) 228 ff.; and Festugiere, L'Astrologie , 196 ff., 222 ff. 

61 Flence Epicurus thought it better even to follow popular religion than to be a slave to astral tipappiirt ) , since the latter 
a.irapairr)TOi$Xfi ttjv a.vayKT)v ( Epist . 3.134). The futility of prayer was emphasised by orthodox astrologers: cf. Vettius Valens, 
5.9; 6 prooem.; 6.1 Kroll. 

62 Cf. App. II, pp. 291 f., also PGM i.214, xiii.612, and A.D. Nock, Conversion , 102, 288 f. 

63 SVF 11.473 init ., Chrysippus held that by virtue of the all-penetrating ^^vpa, avpira iartv airr<5 rd ir at* cf. a | so n.912. 
This is of course something different from the doctrine of specific occult "sympathies"; but it probably made it easier for 
educated men to accept the latter. 

64 Festugiere, op. cit ., 199. Flence Nilsson's remark that "antiquity could not differentiate between natural and occult potencies" 
( Greek Piety , 105). But the aims and methods of Aristotle and his pupils are as distinct from those of the occultists as science is 
from superstition (of. Festugiere, 189 ff.). 

65 A generation ago there was a fashion, started by Schmekel in his Philosophic der mittleren Stoa , for attributing to Posidonius 
almost every "mystical" or "otherworldly" or "Orientalising" tendency which appeared in later Greco-Roman thought. These 
exaggerations were exposed by R. M. Jones in a valuable series of articles in CP (1918, 1923, 1926, 1932). For a more cautious 
account of Posidonius' system see L. Edelstein, AJ P 57 (1936) 286 ff. Edelstein finds no evidence in the attested fragments that 
he was either an Orientaliser or a man of deep religious feeling. But it remains true that his dualism suited the religious 
tendencies of the new age. 

66 On the significance of this revolution in the Academy see O. Gigon, "Zur Geschichte der sog. Neuen Akademie," Museum 
Helveticum , 1 (1944) 47 ff. 

67 "Its sectaries formed a church rather than a school, a religious order, not an academy of sciences," Cumont, After Life in 
Roman Paganism , 23. A good general picture of Neopythagoreanism is to be found in Festugere's article, REG 50 (1937) 470 ff. 
(cf. also his L'ldealrel religieux des Grecs , Pt. I, chap. v). Cumont's Recherches sur le symbolisme funeraire des Romains 
attributes to Neopythagoreanism a wide influence on popular eschatological ideas; but cf. the doubts expressed in Nock's review, 
AJA 50 (1946) 140 ff., particularly 152 ff. 

68 Cf. Diog. Laert. 8.27, and the first question in the Pythagorean catechism, Ti iorw oi pa.nap<j)v vfjaoi ; ijXios Kal fft\fivi} 
(Iamb. vit. Pyth . 82 = Diels, Vorsokr . 58 C 4), with Delatte's commentary, Etudes sur la litt. pyth ., 274 ff.; also Boyance, REG 
54 (1941) 146 ff., and Gigon, Ursprung , 146, 149 f. I am not satisfied that these old Pythagorean beliefs are necessarily due to 
Iranian influence. Such fancies seem to have originated independently in many parts of the world. 

69 This was especially stressed by Wallmann ( op. cit. supra, n . 60). Wellmann regarded Bolus himself as a Neopythagorean 
(after Suidas), which seems to be wrong (cf. Kroll, loc. cit ., 231); but such men as Nigidius Figulus were evidently influenced by 
him. 

70 Nigidius Figulus, a leading figure in the Pythagorean revival, not not only wrote on dreams (fr. 82) and quoted the wisdom of 
the Magi (fr. 67), but was reputed to be a practising occultist who had discovered a hidden treasure by the use of boy mediums 
(Apul. Apol. 42). Vatinius, who "called himself a Pythagorean," and Appius Claudius Pulcher, who probably belonged to the same 
group, are said by Cicero to have engaged in necromancy ( in Vat . 14; Tuse . 1.37; div . 1.132). And Varro seems to have 
credited Pythagoras himself with necromancy or hydromancy, doubtless on the strength of Neopythagorean apocrypha (Aug. Civ. 
Dei 7.35). Professor Nock is inclined to attribute to Neopythagoreans a substantial share in the systemarising of magical theory, 
as well as in its practice ( J . Eg. Arch . 15 [1929] 227 f.). 

71 The romantic reaction against natural theology has been well characterised by Christopher Dawson, Religion and Culture , 10 
ff. Its typical features are ( a ) the insistence on transcendence, against a theology which, in Blake's words, "calls the Prince of 
this World 'God' "; ( b ) the insistence on the reality of evil and "the tragic sense of life," against the insensitive optimism of the 
eighteenth century; ( c ) the insistence that religion is rooted in feeling and imagination, not in reason, which opened the way to 
a deeper understanding of religious experience, but also to a revival of occultism and a superstitious respect for "the Wisdom of 
the East." The new trend of religious thought which began in the first century B.C. can be described, in exactly the same terms. 

72 In the early centuries of the Empire, monism and dualism, "cosmic optimism" and "cosmic pessimism," persisted side by 
side— both are found, for example, in the Hermetica —and it was only gradually that the latter gained the upper hand. Plotinus, 
while sharply criticising both the extreme monism of the Stoics and the extreme dualism of Numenius and the Gnostics, 
endeavours to construct a system which shall do justice to both tendencies. The starry heavens are still for the Emperor Julian 
an object of deeply felt adoration: cf. orat . 5, 130 CD , where he tells how the experience of walking in starlight caused him in 
boyhood to fall into a state of entranced abstraction. 

73 Cf. Festugiere, L'Astrologie , chap. ix. 

74 Cf. Nock, "A Vision of Mandulis Aion," Harv. Theol. Rev . 27 (1934) 53 ff.; and Festugiere, op. cit ., 45 ff., where a number of 
interesting texts are translated and discussed. 

75 Theurgy was primarily a technique for attaining salvation by magical means; see App. II, p. 291. And the same may be said 
of some of the rituals preserved in the magical papyri, such as the famous "recipe for immortality" ( PGM iv. 475 ff). Cf. Nock, 
"Greek Magical Papyri," J. Eg. Arch . 15 (1929) 230 ff.; Festugiere, L'l deal religieux , 281 ff.; Nilsson, "Die Religion in den gr. 
Zauberpapyri," Bull. Soc. Roy. des Lettres de Lund , 1947-1948, ii. 59 ff. 

76 Nilsson, Greek Piety , 150. Occultism, I should add, is to be distinguished from the primitive magic described by 




anthropologists, which is prescientific, prephilosophical, and perhaps prereligious, whereas occultism is a pseudo-science or 
system of pseudo-sciences, often supported by an irrationalist philosophy, and always exploiting the disintegrated debris of 
preexisting religions. Occultism is also, of course, to be distinguished from the modern discipline of psychical research, which 
attempts to eliminate occultism by subjecting supposedly "occult" phenomena to rational scrutiny and thus either establishing 
their subjective character or integrating them with the general body of scientific knowledge. 

77 Epicurus was particularly frank in expressing his contempt for culture (fr. 163 Us., iraiStiav jracrav (frtvyi / c f. Cic. fin . 1.71 
ff.= fr. 227), and also for science, so far as it does not promote &Tapa£ta ( Epist . 1.79, 2.85; Ktpuu Ao£ac ( n), Professor 
Farrington seems to me altogether mistaken in making him a representative of the scientific spirit, in contrast with the 
"reactionary" Stoics. But Stoicism too was generally indifferent to research save in so far as it confirmed Stoic dogmas, and was 
prepared to suppress it where it conflicted with them (n. 58). 

78 Plotinus is the outstanding exception. He organised his teaching on the basis of a sort of seminar system, with free discussion 
(Porph. vit. Plot . 13);' he recognised the value of music and mathematics as a preparation for philosophy ( Enn . 1.3.1, 1.3.3), 
and is said to have been himself well versed in these subjects, as well as in mechanics and optics, though he did not lecture on 
them ( vit. Plot . 14); above all, as Geffcken has put it ( Ausgang , 42), "he does not stand on top of a system and preach: he 
investigates." 

79 Epictetus, Diss . 3.23.30: i arptiiv ianr, iv&ptt, rb rov (tn\oc6<povaxo\(^ov ■ Sen. Epist . 48.4: ad miseros advocatus es ... 

perditae vitae perituraeque auxilium aliquod implorant. This language is common to ail the schools. The Epicureans held that 
their concern was HWl larptiav ( Sent. Vat . 64, cf. Epicurus, Epist . 3.122, r P&i Ti Karb i/'t/xti*' I0f‘ a **'< w ). Philo of 

Larissa T bv <t>iXboo<f>ov larpC . ) (stob. Eel . 2.7.2., pp. 39 f. w.), and Plato himself is described in the anonymous vita 

, 9.36 ff., as a physician of souls. The ultimate source of all this is, no doubt, the Socratic^*P a ^*‘ a , but the frequency of 

the medical metaphor is nevertheless significant. On the social function of philosophy in the Hellenistic Age and later see 
especially Nock, Conversion , chap. xi. 

80 M. Ant. 3.4.3: Uptvs rtf fan *a l vwovpyfc Otuv . 

81 Justin Martyr, Dial . 2.6. Cf. Porphyry, ad Marcellam 16: “PM^ra t rpk Mr, del Mr bp$, abvfffTiv &tl OtQ> 

82 Demetrius Cynicus (saec. I A.D. ) apud Seneca, de beneficiis 7.1.5. f. 

83 As Wendiand points out ( Die hellenistisch-rdmische Kultur 2 , 226 ff.), the attitude of pagans like Demetrius is matched by 
that of Christian writers like Arnobius who held all secular learning to be unnecessary. And there is not a vast difference between 
the view of the Shorter Catechism that "the whole duty of man is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever" and the view of the 
pagan Hermetist who wrote that "philosophy consists exclusively in seeking to know God by habitual contemplation and holy 
piety" ( Asclepius 12). 

84 Meanwhile, see his Greek Piety (Eng. trans., 1948), and his articles on "The New Conception of the Universe in Late Greek 
Paganism" ( Eranos , 44 [1946] 20 ff.) and "The Psychological Background of Late Greek Paganism" ( Review of Religion , 1947, 
115 ff.). 

85 Vol. I, L'Astrologie et les sciences occultes (Paris, 1944), containing also a brilliantly written introduction to the series; Vol. II, 
Le Dieu cosmique (Paris, 1949). Two further volumes, Les Doctrines de fame and Le Dieu inconnu et la Gnose , are promised. 
Cumont's posthumous book, Lux Perpetua , which does for the Greco-Roman world something of what Rohde's Psyche did for 
the Hellenic, appeared too late for me to use it. 

86 Bury thought that no misuse of "that vague and facile word 'decadent'" could be more flagrant than its application to the 
Greeks of the third and second centuries ( The Hellenistic Age , 2); and Tarn "ventures to entertain considerable doubts whether 
the true Greek really degenerated" ( Hellenistic Civilisation , 5). As to Oriental influence on later Greek thought, the present 
tendency is to diminish the importance assigned to it in comparison with that of earlier Greek thinkers, especially Plato (cf. 
Nilsson, Greek Piety , 136 ff.; Festugiere, Le Dieu cosmique , xii ff.). Such men as Zeno of Citium, Posidonius, Plotinus, and even 
the authors of the philosophic Hermetica , are no longer considered as "Orientalisers" in any fundamental sense. There is also 
now a reaction against exaggerated estimates of the influence of Eastern mystery cults: cf. Nock, CAH XII. 436, 448 f.; Nilsson, 
op. cit ., 161. 

87 Cf. the remarks of N. H. Baynes, J RS 33 (1943) 33. It is worth remembering that the creators of Greek civilisation were 
themselves to all appearance the products of a cross between Indo-European and non-Indo-European stocks. 

88 W. R. Halliday, The Pagan Background of Early Christianity , 205. Others, with more reason, have blamed the thinness of the 
civilised upper crust and the total failure of higher education to reach or influence the masses (so, e.g., Eitrem, Orakel und 
Mysterien am Atusgang der Antike , 14 f.). 

89 Cf. Festugiere, L'Astrologie , 5 ff. 

90 See chap, ii, n. 92. 

91 A book published in 1946 states that there are at present some 25,000 practising astrologers in the United States, and that 
about 100 American newspapers now provide their readers with daily divinations (Bergen Evans, The Natural History of 
Nonsense , 257). I regret that I have no comparable figures for Britain or Germany. 

92 Nilsson, Greek Piety , 140. 

93 Festugiere, L'Astrologie , 9. 

94 There are important exceptions to this, particularly in the work of Strato in physics (cf. B. Farrington, Greek Science , 11.27 
ff.), and in the fields of anatomy and physiology. In optics Ptolemy devised a number of experiments, as A. Lejeune has shown 
in his Euclide et Ptolemee . 

95 Cf. Farrington, op. cit ., 11.163 if., and Walbank, Decline of the Roman Empire in the West , 67 ff. I have simplified the 
argument, but I hope without doing it serious injustice. 

96 Cf. Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom . 

97 Nock, Conversion , 241. Cf. Fromm's conception of dependence on a "magic helper" and the resulting blockage of 
spontaneity, op. cit ., 174 ff. 

98 That we have so little evidence from the Hellenistic Age may well be due to the almost total loss of the prose literature of that 
period. But its history does provide one very striking instance of a mass upsurge of irrationalist religion, the Dionysiac movement 
in Italy which was suppressed in 186 B.C. and the following years. It claimed to have a vast following, "almost a second people." 
Cf. Nock, op. cit ., 71 ff.; E. Fraenkel, Hermes , 67 (1932) 369 ff.; and most recently J. J. Tierney, Proc. R.I.A . 51 (1947) 89 ff. 

99 Theophrastus, Char . 16 (28 J.); Plut. de superstitione 7, 168 D . Cf. "The Portrait of a Greek Gentleman," Greece and Rome,